The integrated agency might be for you

May 19th, 2017 by Simon Bollon


19.05.17

Looking for a media agency? Let’s talk digital. Or PR. Or social. Actually, let’s just start at the beginning and talk about all of them. Actually, let’s just talk about your business, needs, objectives, proposition, vision. Then we’ll decide collectively where to go next.

That’s a cut down version of most of the pitch and new business opportunities we come across.

Our inbound enquiries are mostly from people looking for niche services, believing that the channel in discussion is the natural environment for them. Or because they are already doing one or some of the broader services within the communications mix.

Around half the time, the services potential clients enquire about are not the work we ultimate undertake for the client in the first stages of our relationship.

We are a strategy and implementation agency. We believe that strategy comes first and only once a solid, purposeful strategy is developed should the implementation take place. Too often clients are ‘doing’ social, PR, media buying or search without one cohesive strategy of what, when and why – they lack cohesive long-term views and fail to marry short term actions with the bigger picture. The allocation of resources and budgets therefore lacks strategy and justification.

I’m not one for bashing agencies but we believe that the smaller, siloed specialisms will find the coming years tough. The very biggest clients will continue to utilise the specialists as strategy sits internally with large marketing teams led by strategically minded CMOs (or similar titles) meaning the agency role is one of implementation with ownership sitting within the marketing departments. It makes sense. But I think those services are then often commoditized.

However, in smaller, mid-market, privately owned, growth or challenger businesses (broad brush, not 100% accurate and yes, the core of our client base) the reliance on agencies is growing. The shifting digital landscape has made it more challenging to navigate and importantly, to know what to expect as a return. It is the responsibility of the agencies to use knowledge, data and experience to drive budget allocation, determine likely returns and guide clients through phases of activation by channel.

It is not appropriate for a media agency to guide on share of budget as their expertise is in one area. The same applies to a digital agency. They have no data, knowledge or experience that can guide them on how offline media might be best used to acquire customers. Nor can they justify their services versus another channel.

For that reason, we work across paid, owned and earned, with core disciplines in media, digital and PR. Finding, engaging, converting and retaining customers. We blend services and allocate budget and activity appropriate to a client’s vision, objectives and KPIs.

Hey, it’s not right for everyone, but its critical to many.

Further, this approach allows for real client intimacy. We can provide completely unbiased direction, deliver a much stronger consultative approach and ultimately work on a PRF model where everyone wins.

For us, working across all of the services means we are able to focus on our strengths as a strategically focused agency, relying less on a focus of monetising at the point of implementation.

There is a better way. An integrated way. A strategic way.

It’s why we just won Best Small Integrated Agency.