For as long as I’ve been in the industry (don’t let the youthful good looks fool you) there has always been a question for clients about whether to go for a full service agency or whether to get a roster of specialist agencies.
Now, building a full service agency like Zeal, I can hardly claim to be impartial but what I wanted to do was write a blog on why I believe it’s the right thing to do for the agency and more importantly for the client.
To hugely generalise and summarise the specialist vs full service debate goes a little something like this; specialist agencies are better because specialists are focused on one area, therefore you get better knowledge, specialists would also say that you wouldn’t want to put your business with a full service agency because you’re paying for Jack of all Trades and everyone knows Jack of all Trades are masters of none.
A full service enthusiast, like myself, will tell you that the benefits of having everything under one roof far outweighs any pitfalls. Clients get a holistic strategy, channels work better together and the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
When it comes to digital, my personal opinion is that ‘back in the day’ digital agencies were specialists because it was a new and specialist channel. Digital turned the whole marketing industry on its head and for a while clients were playing catch up to agencies knowledge. Now digital is intrinsically linked to all aspects of marketing – internal and external, above and below the line marketing.
Every marketing strategy should have an aspect of digital activity as it’s a major touchpoint for every consumer’s journey.
We also have to think about the fragmentation of the market place. Long gone are the days of getting the centre break in Corrie and hitting a huge percentage of the market. Consumers have way shorter attention spans (proven to be less than a goldfish), so you have to put your brand in front of them multiple times, in multiple ways before any kind of recognition happens. Because of this brand consistency is absolutely crucial and isn’t consistency easier using a single agency?
Zeal is a full service agency. We offer pretty much everything under one roof but we are not a Jack of all Trades.
The people we employ are absolute specialists, with specialist knowledge and passion.
They also get an awful lot out of working for a full service agency. They get to see the part they play in the overall strategy, and the effect that has is hugely beneficial for broadening their own individual knowledge. Clients can speak to directly to the specialist or have a single point of contact across all channels or a mixture of the two.
There are also some channels that actively work better and are intrinsically linked – design and development, SEO and PPC, Content and SEO. Having a singular agency looking after all of these channels is more efficient and gets much better results.
My concluding comment is, surprisingly not just an overwhelming tick in the box of the full service agency, but it’s actually this: as a client either route can ONLY work if you place the utmost importance on COMMUNICATION. We have some clients at Zeal where we do everything for them – video, SEO, development, creative, content marketing, outreach etc. and with these clients, internal communication is the difference between success and failure. We also have clients where we just look after a single channel and work with other agencies. This again will only work if the communication is really strong and each party knows what they are doing.
There you go. We’re the best #VoteZeal.
If you want to find out more about our marketing services or debate more about Full Service vs Specialist then get in touch!