Integrated or Specialist marketing agency – what’s right for your business?

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Integrated or specialist marketing agency – what’s right for your business?

This is a question businesses the world over will ask themselves from time to time. In the ever-changing world of communications this is really not surprising. Some marketers struggle to keep pace with change, so what chance does the average business have?

Using agencies that specialise in a specific set of skills is perfect if that’s where your business needs to focus. However, if you need a range of skills in your marketing toolkit, an integrated agency might be a better option.

Ask yourself – what are your business objectives?

Before you take any decision, you really need to be looking at your business objectives and asking yourself:
– what are our ambitions for the year?
– what marketing channels do we want to use to achieve these goals?
– can these channels work together?
– can we handle this in-house?
– if not, what budget do we have to spend?

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Using a specialist agency

If you’re business has a specific goal to meet and a dedicated channel to reach your audience then a more one-dimensional marketing approach could be spot on. An agency with in-depth knowledge and the necessary skills will provide the expertise you need. Tell them your budget and your objectives and let them explain to you how they are going to deliver the right results for you.

An agency which specialisies in a specific marketing channel will be able to focus on doing the one job for you – but realise it is unlikely to be able to join this up with any other marketing activity you may have planned now or in the future.

Using an integrated agency

Integrated agencies or ‘one-stop shops’ to use a popular term, will have all the necessary skills under one roof. There is the potential for different experts to collaborate on your work and bring together cross-channel marketing activity, if this is what your business needs.

It’s really a case of horses for courses. Don’t choose one or the other without considering seriously what will be best for your business and where it’s heading. Equally, check first that none of these skill sets sit within your own business already.

This brings us onto another dilemma….

Should I keep marketing in-house or outsource it?

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Outsourcing is a consideration. But, on the flipside, you may feel that no one quite understands your business, and your customers, like you do.

Here are a few points to consider before looking outside of your organisation for assistance:

Outsourcing allows you to buy in expertise for a specific skill or set of skills. They will not know your business however so time and resource will be needed to brief them. You need to weigh up whether this would be a useful ‘extra’ resource to complement your own activity or more work for you to manage.

Outsourcing means paying for what you get. It’s a transparent arrangement. This could suit many businesses that need to manage budgets carefully. Ensure you provide a clear brief of what you want and ask the agency you instruct to explain how they will be measuring their work for you and what ROI you can expect.

Reputable PR and digital marketing agencies will invest in the best tools for the job, meaning skilled staff will deliver for you. This may come at a potentially higher cost. You need to weigh up whether outsourcing or paying for on going training to up-skill your in-house team is better value for money.

The best performing agencies typically work in creative environments, sharing ideas, knowledge and best practice. While some of the more enthusiastic ideas may be unrealistic in terms of spend, you may find yourself asking ‘is our current organisation lacking in originality?’ Without knocking their hard work and commitment, if your in-house marketers work in a vacuum could they, and therefore your business, be missing out on the next big marketing ‘thing’.

Ultimately, it’s your decision.

The size of your organisation, the sector you work in, the pace and turnaround of your business offering, and ultimately the channels your brand needs to be in to connect with your audience, will all play a part in deciding where your marketing should sit – specialist or integrated agency, or in-house.

Check out more on this subject, in this article from Econsultancy.

Dawn Strange

Dawn has been with MM since the year dot – well, technically, six months after it was born! That was back in March 1995. She was the first recruit and can honestly say she’s loved the journey to where we are today – and where we’re heading!

Along with Karen, she runs MM, keeping it on track at the same time as exploring new business opportunities and pitching in on business development.

Her passion is content, in its multiple guises. Having jumped out of journalism into the agency world she’s got a real thing about matching right content with the right audience, whether it’s 10 words of ad copy or a 2,000-word thought leadership piece.