I believe every brand must be omni-channel and therefore omnipresent, which means to be everywhere that matters in your industry. This leads to an important question. How can a small-to-medium sized business afford to be everywhere in today’s highly integrated marketing eco-system?
Over the decades, I’ve seen technology rollout many trends and fads in marketing. As each fad was introduced, brands were led to believe they would be left behind unless they spent heavily in the new channel or media. Fast-forward to today, and it’s believed you need a web design firm, an SEO firm, a social media firm, a video production company, a public relations firm, a digital media firm, a reputation management agency, and more.
Most of you work at organizations that cannot afford to hire all those resources.
Consequently, some businesses choose to staff up and bring all their marketing “in-house.” This option presents two obvious predicaments. First, the talent is often not as experienced as a professional firm. Second, it’s difficult to accurately quantify how much money in-house staff actually saves the company in relation to how much revenue and brand value they contribute. In my 30 years of experience, I have crossed paths with only a few companies that have operated successfully in this paradigm. However, in those rare cases the Senior Marketing Manager had significant management experience and was uniquely qualified to lead a multidisciplinary team.
Other business organizations choose to concentrate on one or two specific channels, such as social media and SEO, and contract with channel-specific niche providers. Those “omni-channel limited” providers get the bulk of the marketing budget, which significantly dilutes the rest of the marketing efforts across other channels. This option typically adds value only to a narrow band of the marketing eco-system and limits thinking to other profitable and possibly more effective marketing channels. For example, social and SEO may be effective, but sales presentations, email programs, the website, video production and other channels run the risk of being off-brand, or even worse, end up damaging a company’s sales efforts. To be clear, it is a viable solution, but an incomplete one. It does not effectively address a business’s place in an omni-channel world.
There is an old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” This idea is likely true for individuals, but I don’t believe it is for an integrated agency. An integrated, multidisciplinary agency is, by definition, a Jack or Jane of one trade (marketing) and master of many (omni-channel).
I’m convinced that integrated or interconnected marketing firms provide the overall highest value, and that’s why I built my agency on the integrated model 25 years ago. A multidisciplinary team offers its clients a wellspring of skills and expertise – all working in unison to inform every strategic initiative where all channels are efficiently addressed and if needed, adapted to maximize the impact from the budget. An omni-channel, integrated agency has a cost, but so does an in-house team of 1-5 employees with the occasional use of freelance experts. There is no cost-free option. The real question is who will generate the highest value per dollar and have the most significant impact on your brand moving forward. Consider, which option truly broadens the company’s bench and adds more intellectual value.