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The Evolution of Marketing Agencies and Consultancies

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In this article, you'll learn...

  • Key factors driving the marketing-services transformation
  • The role of tech-savvy and forward-thinking firms in today's evolving ecosystem
  • Services, pricing, staffing, and process considerations for success

The marketing agency ecosystem is rapidly evolving. Marketing agencies and consultants now have the ability to deliver greater value via a blend of traditional and digital services, spanning the core disciplines of search, mobile, social, content, websites, digital advertising, public relations, analytics, and email.

In fact, 80% of chief marketing officers think integrated services will increase in importance over the next five years, according to a study by The Horn Group and Kelton Research. However, in the same study, 60% of CMOs indicated that they are unable to find an integrated firm to meet those needs.

As a result, unparalleled opportunities are available for emerging agencies and consultants to transform, disrupt, and thrive within the developing marketing-services ecosystem via evolved and integrated strategies, hybrid skill sets, and the effective use of technology.

What's Driving the Marketing Agency Transformation?

Changes in consumer behavior and advances in technology are driving the need for tech-savvy, versatile, and forward-thinking agencies.

Today's consumers are tuning out traditional, interruption-based marketing methods, and choosing when and where to interact with brands. More often, that is happening via social networks, blogs, search engines, and mobile devices. In fact, Gartner research predicts that by 2015 "digital strategies, such as social and mobile marketing, will influence at least 80 percent of consumers' discretionary spending."

In addition, innovations in technology now allow for accurate and real-time reporting capabilities that can be directly correlated to sales. Gone are the days when firms could rely on arbitrary measurements, such as impressions, reach, and advertising equivalency. Savvy agencies will track and adjust campaigns based on click-through rates, inbound links, website traffic, leads, and other metrics that directly impact the bottom line.

Building a Tech-Savvy Firm

Agencies that understand technology trends and innovations are able to more readily adapt their own business models, continually increase efficiency and productivity, and ensure that client campaigns evolve. But how do you create that type of tech-savvy firm? The following are some considerations when getting started.

  • Is our pricing model efficient and results driven? Is pricing aligned with our customers' perceived value for the services?
  • Does our team have diversified and versatile skill sets? Can it create and manage integrated campaigns that combine brand, Web, mobile, search, social, content, public relations, and advertising? Is it motivated to be great?
  • Are services integrated and aligned with trends in consumer behavior? Should we invest in more training and education in certain areas? Can strategic partners fill the void in service gaps?
  • Is our infrastructure scalable? Could it handle the demands of new clients or employees? Are we taking advantage of cloud computing, social networks, mobile devices, and other technologies to improve operations and collaboration?
  • How are we marketing our own services? Are we connecting with and engaging buyer personas where they already interact? Do we have an integrated marketing campaign in place that combines traditional and online strategies?
  • Does our sales system effectively nurture and convert leads? Do we have the proper infrastructure and personnel in place to accommodate lead volume without sacrificing quality?
  • How do we measure and report results to clients? Do metrics directly tie to the bottom line? Are strategies adjusted based on historical and real-time performance? Do we make a valuable impact on our clients' businesses?
  • Are our clients happy? What steps are we taking to build client relationships and loyalty? Do we always over-deliver on our promises?
  • Do we take risks? Is disruptive innovation ingrained in the agency's culture? Do we pursue opportunities and ideas that have the chance to advance the agency, or do we simply maintain the status quo?
  • Does our firm have a purpose? Do employees feel like they are a part of something greater than themselves?

It is an exciting time to be in the marketing-services industry, as we have the opportunity to directly affect clients' businesses like never before. But to achieve that success, we must look within—and start asking the questions above—to honestly evaluate our capabilities and make sure they evolve with the times.

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Paul Roetzer is founder and CEO of PR 20/20, author of The Marketing Performance Blueprint (Wiley, 2014) and The Marketing Agency Blueprint (Wiley, 2012), and creator of Marketing Score.

Twitter: @paulroetzer

LinkedIn: Paul Roetzer

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  • by John Ellett Thu Dec 8, 2011 via mobile

    Great article! For the past 11 years, we've been building the agency you describe at nFusion. It is not easy to do, but clients do love it. I believe the reason it is not done more often is because it is hard to do. We're constantly refining and enhancing our skill set, which runs counter to many people's desire for stability and predictability. Thee is never a dull moment which keeps things exciting!

    Thanks for your post.

  • by John kottcamp Sun Dec 11, 2011 via mobile

    Great article. I echo the sentiments and would go one step further. A new breed of firm is emerging that morphs the technology capabilities of a software company with the business and strategy chops of a large consulting firm and make it dedicated to helping clients become truly customer centric. That is where we should all be heading and there are a few good shops who will be leading the revolution. I know because I just joined one, Tahzoo, last week.

  • by Yves Mon Jan 30, 2012 via web

    Much appreciated article ! I would have put your last point first : the key ingredient of an integrated campaign - in my experience - is the purpose. Without it, the others are difficult to manage.

  • by Douglas Burdett Tue Feb 7, 2012 via web

    I just read this and was about to post it to the Marketing Agency Insider group on LinkedIn and comment on how remarkably consistent it is with Paul Roetzer's new book. Then I looked again and noticed who wrote it. D'oh!

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