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Why Your All-In-One Marketing Agency Sucks

Written by:   |  Strategy  |  January 20, 2015  |  2 comments

I often find that clients are still looking for a single marketing agency that can fulfill all of their needs—creative, media buying, digital marketing, and social media… all in one. In a perfect world this would make sense as you could just deal with one vendor who meets all of your needs. But again and again I see this ideal fall short with the campaign performance suffering (this is when we’re often brought in). The “all-in-one” agency model usually under-performs due to the following issues:

All in one Agencies

1. Specialists Rule / Generalists Suck

Yes, I said it… generalists suck. Larger businesses can get much, much better performance from specialists. For smaller businesses, generalists might make sense as they can’t afford three or four different specialists each working on their campaign for only a couple of hours each week. But for a larger organization, if your SEO, SEM, Media Buying, Social Media, and Analytics are all being handled by one person, I can guarantee you’re getting mediocre results (at best). And unfortunately, in most traditional and creative agencies these roles are handled by one or two people.

Try splitting your creative, media buying, and digital marketing between different agencies and you will undoubtedly achieve better performance for your campaign. Why are specialists so much better? They quite simply are more focused, which allows them to stay on top of the latest trends in their quickly changing fields. Would you trust your GP to treat your eye problems, remove your pancreas, or deliver your baby? I doubt it. When it comes to getting the best results, specialists really do rule.

2. It’s Not All About the Creative

Good creative is only half the battle. Successful marketing today is driven more-so by reaching the right audience, at the right place and right time (enabled by hyper market segmentation and new ad placement technologies). Not to say that great ad creative doesn’t still have a role. It certainly does, but it’s not the “be all” any more. Where and when your ad runs plays a much larger role in this digital age, so in the end, you need both great creative and great placements.

But here’s the rub… you won’t get both in one place. The creative mindset and the ad placement/analytical/optimization mindset are very different and don’t operate well under one roof. Every agency I’ve ever worked with leans one way or the other and decisions are made in that vain. What the client really needs is both—creative people doing what they do best and spreadsheet geeks placing the ads, analyzing the performance, and optimizing the campaign for optimal results. You shouldn’t settle for only a very strong first half team. For optimal performance, you need to ensure that both halves are the strongest they can be.

3. Analytics is the new Black Dress (You Need to Have One)

In case you haven’t noticed yet, analytics is the new hot topic in marketing. Why? Because with the increasing predominance of digital channels, more and more of what you’re doing is now trackable. And if it’s trackable it can be optimized, which leads to better campaign performance. As a result, your agency mix needs to include an agency with an analytics department, which can pull together your campaign results across platforms. The old adage used to be… “Half of my marketing is working, I’m just not sure which half”. But in this day and age, there really isn’t any excuse for not knowing. The quickest gains you can make in your advertising campaign is to track results, determine which half isn’t working, and cut it. Then, reallocate the funds to higher performing areas that could use more budget or for testing new channels and approaches.

Unfortunately, I can guarantee that your creative and traditional agencies do not have dedicated analytics specialists, never mind an actual analytics department. Professional analytics is not a fast nor easy thing to learn. Those that do it well all have proper certifications and experience that they should be able to share with you. This is a critical area so make sure to seek out an agency which is analytics centric, then ask who will be doing your analytics work, what certifications they have, examples of reports they’ve created, and client references for their analytics work. These steps should ensure your analytics are in the right hands.

Together We Are Stronger

In today’s digital age, complimenting your strong creative and traditional teams with a strong digital team is more important than ever. A strong digital team will drive better performance from your digital channels, while also enabling you to better track performance of all channels. If you need advice on analytics, digital marketing, or the agency mix, please get in touch.

2 responses to “Why Your All-In-One Marketing Agency Sucks”

  1. Jake says:

    All very true, Cameron. I’m a spreadsheet geek and proud of it. You’re right, there really is no excuse for wasting any advertising dollars. Even traditional media (radio, newspaper, magazine, etc) is track able. You just have to engrain it in your frontline staff to ask every new lead where they heard about you.

    • Cameron Prockiw Cameron Prockiw says:

      Good point! We should write a blog post about tracking offline soon as it’s often overlooked. Thanks for your feedback.

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