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Over the last 12 months, we’ve started to see some significant shifts in the agency model and client-agency relationship. Having been involved in working with and running a number of agencies since 2003, I thought I’d share the direction I see things heading.

In some way this is a series of mini-posts, so you might want to grab a cup of tea first! But it should go to show the challenges agencies face in order to keep evolving and stay on top of their game.

What does the perfect digital strategy look like?

Rather than starting by looking at agency models, I always find it more useful to look at the bigger picture of what brands are doing and what they need. 

Try asking yourself “if budget and restrictions/internal bottlenecks were no object, what would the perfect digital marketing strategy look like?”. Presumably this is likely to include the integration of owned, earned and paid media:

Owned, Earned and Paid Media

And then you can work backwards:

  • What are the main goals you are looking to achieve?
  • What marketing channels can help you to achieve your goals?
  • How can the channels work/integrate together?
  • What type of people do you need to get involved?
  • What can you manage internally vs. using external expertise?

Ultimately it’s taking a budget and spending it where it works best, with short, medium and long-term goals in mind. 

It’s not about SEO, PR or content marketing, it’s simply being able to share your brand's story to your target audience and converting them into customers. 

Once you’ve figured this out, you can then define everything else afterwards. It’s important to know the budget you have to work with early on, so that you can set targets and control realistic expectations from the outset. 

Otherwise you’re unlikely to ever win if those expectations aren’t clearly aligned.

If you flip the question of “what should an agency offer in 2013?”, to ask “what does a client need in 2013?”, you can start to build the right approach to match those key requirements. Otherwise, you run the risk of offering services that aren’t as useful or valued.

Integrated or specialist agency?

To succeed in 2013, brands really need a multichannel approach. This means they have two choices:

  1. Work with an integrated team (either in-house or externally – usually a mixture of both) who can bring everything together under one roof.
  2. Work with a number of specialists in each area.

Of course, there are pros and cons to each. You might lack the in-depth quality a specialist can give you in a particular area. 

But, in that approach you may lose the bigger picture and miss out on many efficiencies of being able to work together more closely as an integrated team. There’s no right or wrong answer, but it’s important that you make the most of the interaction between channels such as SEO, PPC and social media: 

Search

We’re finding we’re more often talking to brands who are looking for digital marketing partners to work alongside their team, as opposed to managing individual channels with separate agencies. This means supporting them with: 

  • Skills they don’t have internally - perhaps it’s content production, blogger outreach, social media marketing campaigns, SEO expertise, PPC management. 
  • Training internal teams - for example, making sure the content team is aware of SEO/PR/social media marketing best practises.
  • Strategic consulting - to reinforce ideas or get internal buy-in with advice from a neutral party.
  • Assistance to build their own team - working alongside brands in interim management positions to identify where they need new skills/job roles and help them recruit key personnel to strengthen their teams.

It always varies based on the client - larger brands often prefer to work with a number of agencies with different expertise and specialisms. Even then, each team still needs to be fully aware of other activity outside of their own campaigns that can make an impact and be used. 

I’ve always found holding agency days to be incredibly valuable too, as that helps you to understand other areas that are being worked upon in more detail, one I attended showed some great demographic profiling information from a CRM agency which I was previously unaware of, and then able to put to use within content and search campaigns.

Plus, getting to know everyone involved allows you to build a relationship outside of the client - which can be very useful if you need to get things done quicker by communicating directly with different agencies/suppliers, without the need for client to be involved in every step.

Surround yourself with talent 

Online marketing has become so integrated that clients will often need a digital partner to support and challenge their internal team and goals. That means as an agency you face a situation where you can a) look to bring in new talent, or b) you have to accept that there’s a range of services that you just can’t offer.

I’ve never been a fan of starting as a full-service agency, I’d rather be great at one thing than average at 10. But if you can find ways to build up and bring in key skills/people into your team which can complement your client campaigns, that has to be an option worth pursuing. 

Scaling with quality is always the biggest agency challenge, and in this game everything is about people – so good recruitment and team building is vital. 

I'm not the best person in my agency at everything we do (or arguably anything!), and neither do I want to do be. No one wants to be a big fish in a small pond, that way you'll end up making it all up yourself and have little choice but to learn from your mistakes.

Alternatively, if you're surrounded by great PPC specialists, bloggers, designers, SEOs, PRs etc you can all learn from each other and create a solid strategy where the whole is much greater than the sum of all parts.

We’ve done this recently, by acquiring a paid search agency to compliment and combine our service offering into an integrated approach. I expect to see more agencies doing the same before the end of the year - and of course, like any agency, we’re always looking for talented people to join us and add to the team.

Ditch the silos

Everyone has known for years that there are efficiencies in combining paid and organic search strategies into a single team. That is true - but it doesn’t really happen until you really start to break down the silos. It’s even more important now, with so many overlaps in search, content, social and PR.

Team building and improving efficiencies is one of the biggest learning curves I've faced, but it's undoubtedly my proudest achievement too by being able to build great teams and individually see people grow and succeed. We’ve made a huge effort in our team to get everyone working together, this means internally the SEO strategists are working in combination with outreach, social media and paid search specialists and supporting each other. 

Sometimes, it’s as simple as getting them to sit next to each other - other times you need to bring them into internal/client meetings, brainstorming and projects.

By ensuring that we act as a team, share knowledge and have a set of individual skills it means clients benefit from this multichannel approach, but you're all working towards executing a single strategy, just from different angles using a mix of tactics.

Having that single and clear strategy, operating across multiple channels using different tactics, means you’re less likely to hit bottlenecks further down the line - because you’re all on the same team and working together.

In my opinion culture can often be looked at the wrong way. But to me this is what culture is all about, it’s getting everyone enjoying their work, learning every day, contributing as part of a team with the support of others and working on clients they love/sectors they are passionate about and willing to put the extra work in when it’s required.

Then you can add in all the free fruit and coffee afterwards, but on it’s own that’s not the important bit.

Team integration also helps to get around the issue where quite often an agency is hired, only to end up dealing with one person at that company. 

That means it’s almost a freelance arrangement, and not quite the service that means you get access to a range of different specialists and have the security in a backup of people who know and understand your brand and what you’re trying to achieve – especially in the case that a key contact is unavailable, on holiday or leaves the company.

Make content central to your brand

Content Marketing

In 2013, there’s no longer an argument on if content is important, everyone can now see the market growth is clearly there, although surprisingly that wasn’t the case even 12 months ago.  

Not many people would disagree now that brands are becoming publishers and that whether you’re involved in PR, social media or SEO - content is crucial towards marketing your brand. That’s why brands like Netflix, Red Bull and Virgin Mobile are now taking content marketing so seriously.

As a result of this growth, the job roles that agencies are now hiring are much more content-based. This means writers/bloggers/authors, social influencers, graphic designers, videographers and creative PRs are much more highly valued than they probably were this time last year. 

In order to succeed, brands are investing in content and building a brand to integrate with all of their marketing channels - this a much longer-term vision to grow their audience and sustainably increase market share.

No one understands your brand better than you

Our job as agencies is to understand the clients we are working with as much as we can, in order to execute a marketing strategy and get the best results possible.

That said, no one is going to understand your brand better than you. Which is why the move towards working as an integrated digital partner makes a lot more sense. That way you’re not just telling an agency to manage everything, instead they are there to support and work with you.

This is where the best results come from, the days are long gone where clients just sign 12-month contracts and you have free reign, with the client only asking to hear from you 11 months down the line to arrange a review meeting. And yes, I have seen that happen! 

Now the task is to support and work together with in-house teams, planning and executing a strategy to combine the skills and resource of both to hit targets.

Brands have huge power in data, knowledge, information & relationships

As agencies - we need to use the full strength of a brand. And for content marketing, for example, there’s a huge amount of value in the data, information and knowledge that brands have available to them.  Most of the time they don’t even realise this can be used for marketing purposes, so we need to work on digging this out and turning their data into content, stories, news, PR.

We all can be guilty of being too stubborn to admit we could benefit from a clients help, or their PR agency’s (and vice versa). 

But brands have a huge amount of power in the relationships they have - if you want to create a social media or outreach campaign to leverage influencers, it makes sense to start with those contacts you’ve build strong relationships with already - so leverage what you’ve got!

The time to be innovative & forward thinking is now

You can debate as long as you like about the impact of Google+, but some agencies (and brands for that matter) can be very reactive and sit back on what has been tried and tested to work for years.

That’s all very well if it works, but if it has diminishing results, it doesn’t matter how good it was in the past, it’s time to move on. Plus there’s lots of opportunities and slow-moving brands that you can take advantage of by moving quickly and being ahead of the curve. 

Sometimes it just needs a leap of faith on something that you believe is going to become increasing important - so that you are being innovative and investing in the future - without taking your eye off the ball today. 

This is one of the most forward thinking SEO articles I’ve read in a long time and if you can get a head-start on things like responsive design, schema and semantic optimisation then you’re likely to be in a very strong position versus your competitors – you can leave them chasing the algorithm while you build for long-term success.

Of course, you won’t always get it right, but if you’re going to be spending time on Google+ for example, don’t hang around waiting until the audience is there - the time to do it is now. Then when the audience is there, you can be one of the authorities and thought leaders within your industry.

Really your business strategy and marketing strategy should be as closely aligned as possible - which is why so many people are encouraging CEOs to become thought leaders to promote their companies via blogging, speaking etc.

They are the ones responsible for setting the company vision and are likely to have the strongest relationships and know more about the industry/market than anyone else, so they should be best placed to bring it all together when it comes to being innovative and predicting where their industry is going next.

Being agile and quick is vital

Which leads on to being agile. In 2013 there are so many newsworthy and topical trends that are great marketing opportunities. Here’s 26 just to name a few!

Econsultancy CEO, Ashley Friedlein wrote an excellent post recently on the importance of having a 70:20:10 approach. That 10% is hugely important - as by being agile and quick to move, you’re likely to be taking advantage of opportunities where perhaps your competitors are slower to move.

In this case, for once it’s not always about quality either, it’s about being quick! I really like the concept that you have something fast, quality or cheap, but you can’t have all three, pick two! In this case, fast is the vital ingredient and then you decide if you prefer quality, or if cheap will do the job.

The ability to be agile shouldn’t be underestimated, we’re in a situation now where we’re telling clients that we’re going to create them x pieces of content, but we have no idea what it’s going to be about. That’s a big shift in mind-set and even a year ago, people would have laughed at that! 

But now, because it’s so important to be topical, we have to be quick to react and provide the content that people are tweeting about and searching for in almost real-time - otherwise you’re too late.

You only need to see the results that Oreo got by being agile during the Superbowl to see that agile can yield huge results and brand visibility.

It’s important to have a consistent model, so balance is key. Allow yourself enough time to be agile, but have that clear plan and strategy that it can work alongside a planned digital roadmap to get the best results.

Otherwise, you’ll end up just chasing the latest fad, you should be using agile to compliment the parts that already work - not replace it.

End of Day Rates?

Pricing models in digital are hard to get right, it’s all about providing value at a fair market rate. 

In every situation, you have to make it win-win. If the client doesn’t get results they’re not going to be happy, and if the agency doesn’t make a profit, equally that’s unlikely to be a good relationship long-term.

Traditionally, the way to do this has been day rates. You know how much time you’ve spent, the margin you make after considering overheads and from an agency perspective you know where you are.

But it doesn’t reflect value. Just because an audit took 10 days to complete, it doesn’t mean it’s any good! 

If anything a day-rate often incentivises the task to take longer! Hopefully not, of course – but you always have to be aware of the dodgy car mechanic. This is especially true with tasks like blogger outreach - the expected results from time spent is vague at best – it’s results that matter.

I can’t speak for other agencies, but I would be interested to hear – personally, other than consultancy time or training, we haven’t charged anything as a standard day-rate for at least a year.

I would expect this is a common trend as more productised and performance-based agreements are much clearer to set expectations and charge clients/reward agencies much more fairly. 

It also means the pressure is on the agency to deliver as the client knows exactly what to expect in terms of key deliverables over the course of a project, with a much higher emphasis on client re-education towards quality over quantity. Focusing on the long-term gain, not the quick wins.

But, it also means that if you are a client with higher than realistic target/deliverable expectations at the outset, that you might get more agencies refusing to work with you now than has happened in the past too.

We want to build our clients into great case studies and success stories – but if a potential client doesn’t share that same drive and determination to get things done, it probably makes sense to pass early, rather that drag out what is likely to be a forgone conclusion.

Summary

In a lot of ways the agency task hasn’t changed at all, it’s about supporting clients goals in the best way possible to achieve results. 

It’s also about having a proven model that works and you can stick to, no-ones wants to constantly change, but at the same time you need to evolve in order to cater for what the market needs and learn what strategies and team environments yield the most success.

What has changed, is the fact that the lines are becoming so blurred between marketing channels, which means operating in silos is no longer effective.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t be a small specialised agency - but it does present a new challenge, for those agencies such as ourselves, who are looking to bridge the gap between small specialist consultancies and the big media agencies. 

I believe the way to go is almost to do both - build an integrated team of specialist skills in each key area, then you can bring them in and out as you see fit to support the growing needs of clients across multi-channels.

It’s simply the process of supporting them in that task and taking a marketing budget and spending it where it works best!

I’d be very interested in hearing from other agency owners on their challenges and how they’ve adapted strategies and their positioning based upon the changing market - let us know in the comments.

Econsultancy currently has a range of services available that can help guide organisational change, business restructuring and digital transformation strategy

Kevin Gibbons

Published 8 July, 2013 by Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons is UK Managing Director at digital marketing agency BlueGlass. He is also known as an SEO speaker and can be found on Twitter and Google+.

102 more posts from this author

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David Quaid

Great post Kevin - really interesting to read your experiences and thoughts, which are probably at the top of the agenda for many other agencies like ourselves too.

There are some other reasons to broaden and also to stay specialised:

We've began including content and SEO and PR about 3 years ago - seeing that we couldn't get the type of content from our clients PR agencies that we needed - they tend to be too outbound (read: Advertorial) but we would never offer online PR as a solution.

We provide very strong, concrete specialised skills and work with a number of other agencies who offer the all-in-one. For us, being specialist gets us the right kind of work (where you're working, not justifying).

Also, many of our clients have internal PR, video, content, and other marketing professionals. By doing too much, we risk stepping on toes, so we might stay specialised and focused.

In a recent proposal, we submitted that while we're a <10 person agency, an all-in-one might bring 15 people to the table but only one or two will be search and social media. They'll have designers, account managers, finance in there too. With us, we have a 50% search and a 50% social+content team.

From personal experience, all-in-one tends to be good at one area and then mediocre at others.

For example, a strong design house rarely likes SEO - and so if they believe SEO is baked-in, their SEO offering is going to be poor, as is often the case. Works two ways too.

almost 3 years ago

Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director at BlueGlass

Thanks David - completely agree. There's endless reasons for doing things in an integrated way.

Most importantly because it's the right thing to do! You need to be able to look at joining up marketing from all angles - so of course that means a range of different skillsets.

Interesting point about the split in the team too - that's exactly how we look at it. It's no longer one all-rounder (it's just too broad for that) - you need a clear mix in skills for any given task or project.

almost 3 years ago

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Bharati Ahuja

A great post indeed.

When all these activities are to be managed in-house it requires a very big budget and specialized skill sets or if outsourced it needs precise coordination. The challenge that the online business owners small or big brands face today is how to the get the maximum ROI from the selected set of the above activities they decide to focus on for a wider and a qualitative digital presence.

The shift is not only on the media used for marketing but a shift is needed towards a whole new process of thinking from the digital perspective in order to gain a profitable overall ROI .

Digital media which demands a multiple partner proliferation. In 2013 it has reached a turbulent stage .

This post http://blog.webpro.in/2013/06/the-digital-world-challenge-faced-by.html describes the 2012 CMO Insights survey by Accenture.

almost 3 years ago

Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director at BlueGlass

Thanks Bharati - I definitely see things heading this way.

In most cases the client will manage processes and own the strategy, but they will hire agencies to help them to execute it, challenge ideas and provide new insight. But it's definitely not an agency running everything anymore, it's a clear partnership of working together.

Social media being brought back in-house was the first sign of things heading this way - but it makes sense to integrate and collaborate on everything if you can. 

almost 3 years ago

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Tim Aldiss

As soon as you know that audit (or any other piece of work) is not going to be any good you let the client know and bring it to a swift conclusion. It's part of being that agile partner that so many businesses are looking for these days.

Agree with everything else that you've said in this excellent post Kevin.

almost 3 years ago

Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director at BlueGlass

Thanks Tim - completely agree that's how things should work, with audits as the example. Simply re-allocating budget to where it works best and is most effective for the client, although I'd be surprised if all agencies are currently working this way.

It's definitely the way things are heading though, especially with 12-month contracts - how do you really know what's most effective 10 months down the line?! Obviously you need a strategy and to map out an action plan (following the auditing stages), but there definitely needs to be an element of adapting and being agile to learnings and changing surroundings. So that you're prepared to change direction if needed.

almost 3 years ago

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Thelma Aye

HI Loved this article,

We have just held some integrated team events using Myers Briggs and had some really good insights - some failures too but we are trying to make multi-personality and multi-skills work well together. We also do awesome parties.

almost 3 years ago

Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director at BlueGlass

Thelma - that's great to hear!

And if there's not a few failures along the way you're probably not doing it right :)

almost 3 years ago

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David Burdon, Director at Simply Clicks

Kevin,

An excellent summary. I really like the simplicity of your graphical constructs and the way they encapsulate and communicate your thinking.

This field is evolving rapidly. Being client centric and understanding the client's brand and end consumers is key. That's true whether an agency offers an integrated or specialist approach.

An often overlooked issue is the costs of agencies working together when a client opts to employ a series of specialists. The liaison process can often eat up more time and mental energy than all the other work on an account.

almost 3 years ago

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Ina

The major problem is lowering customer expectations and I would be interested Kevin on your thoughts on this.

For example when a customer has a new website designed or redesigned from a web design agency who also claim to be SEO and CRO experts and are told that their new website will be designed for SEO and CRO, many clients are sold on this vision, even if this is not the case.

The client believes that they have covered SEO and CRO, so they would never come to the likes of a dedicated SEO/Content Marketing/CRO agency as they believe the work has already been completed.

When their new website does not perform with regard to search and also converting what visitors they have into customers/leads they are sceptical on going down the SEO/CRO route again.

If you can convince them that you can help they expect results that are not realistic or are not prepared to throw more money at SEO/Content Marketing and would definitely not pay for an audit of their site as that alone would not deliver results.

This is the reason why PPC is so popular with clients as they have control over their spend and it's performance.

How do you convince them otherwise Kevin why would they use a content marketing company after initial training to produce content on a long term basis if they have in house marketing and PR teams.

almost 3 years ago

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Bethanie Nash

Thanks for a fantastic post Kevin - perfect timing as we are currently shifting our own positioning. Keen to learn more about other people's thoughts and experiences on performance based charging.

almost 3 years ago

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Ian

Hi Bethanie

How do you envisage how performance based charging would work? what would it be based on and would the client pay nothing up front but only when you deliver results?

almost 3 years ago

Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director at BlueGlass

@David: "An often overlooked issue is the costs of agencies working together when a client opts to employ a series of specialists. The liaison process can often eat up more time and mental energy than all the other work on an account."

Absolutely agree. Simplicity is key, there's no need to over-complicate anything - you just want to get things done. Which is why working together and integrating marketing into a single strategy (both offline and all things digital) makes so much sense.

almost 3 years ago

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Mark Bolitho, New Business Director - Ecommerce at more2Small Business

Hi Kevin, nice post.

I posted on a similar note here last week, but with an ecommerce focus. My premise was that a single channel focus in an omnichannel world makes little sense.

I think it's inevitable that a changing market exerts pressure on suppliers, although how and how quickly they react is the really interesting part.

I tend to think it's sensible to try and do more for clients, but only as long as it stacks up logistically.

Big subject but no time to dwell now!

Cheers
Mark.

almost 3 years ago

Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director at BlueGlass

@Ina: "The major problem is lowering customer expectations and I would be interested Kevin on your thoughts on this."

That's exactly the challenge we've faced for years - everything is about setting client expectations, it's our job to be realistic over what can be achieved and then set a plan to under-promise, but aim to over-deliver.

Clients have always preferred to deal with one provider if possible, just for efficiency more than anything else. But it's very difficult to find people who are good at everything.

Now the problem is if you are weak in a given area, as you mentioned perhaps it's CRO, that let's down the performance of everything else - so the solution is really to bring in talent across all key channels.

Ideally the way we are treating clients is by providing a short, mid and long term digital strategy. For example, short-term may be PPC, mid-term; CRO and social media, long-term content marketing and SEO.

But always working to combine each together and learn from successes/failures along the way.

"If you can convince them that you can help they expect results that are not realistic or are not prepared to throw more money at SEO/Content Marketing and would definitely not pay for an audit of their site as that alone would not deliver results."

Audits are never the part that are value for money, it's the research and learnings to build a itemised list of actionable tasks into a clear prioritised strategy that is.

"How do you convince them otherwise Kevin why would they use a content marketing company after initial training to produce content on a long term basis if they have in house marketing and PR teams."

To answer the question about why they need to hire a content marketing agency to produce content. If they have in-house capabilities, maybe they don't - perhaps we'll just train them and work on delivering a strategy which is executed internally.

Although more often than not the PR and marketing in-house teams will need support on content production. In that case, it's building a proof of concept to deliver content and work alongside their internal teams to hit targets. Once you've done that, then you look to get the buy-in to scale it up.

almost 3 years ago

Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director at BlueGlass

@Bethanie/Ian - good to hear.

In my opinion, performance based pricing always worked best when it's a combination of a) retainer and b) performance bonus.

Like anything, it has to be win, win for long-term success - you only pay extra if targets are hit. But on the agency side, your time and effort is covered for your own internal costs.

There's so many different models of doing this and generally you only learn from experience of tracking success and profitability (on both sides) - but having performance based targets is definitely I model I prefer working with, as it reflects real value to the client and it gets everyone agency-side motivated towards hitting the targets that really matter.

almost 3 years ago

Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director at BlueGlass

@Mark: "I posted on a similar note here last week, but with an ecommerce focus. My premise was that a single channel focus in an omnichannel world makes little sense."

Couldn't agree - and it's important to remember from the client side, they don't really care where the success comes from in their marketing budget. It's about the end result.

Agencies need to remember that too!

almost 3 years ago

Ben Potter

Ben Potter, Commercial Director at LeapfroggSmall Business

Great post Kevin.

One thing our agency, Leapfrogg, did around three years to encourage a more collaborative approach, is create multi-disciplined teams (as opposed to the more traditional silo model where SEO's sit in one corner, paid search guys in another, account managers on another floor, etc).

Instead, we have teams of four that include one SEO expert, one PPC, an PR/content/social specialist and an account manager. The team physically sit together as you suggest above, work on a small portfolio of similar clients and are supported by a senior team (head of search, head of content, etc).

It means great communication, knowledge sharing, collaboration, etc for the ultimate benefit of the client. Great client / agency relationships have been forged because the same core team work on the same accounts.

almost 3 years ago

Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director at BlueGlass

@Ben - absolutely spot on!

That's exactly how I think it should be done - communication and managing expectations is normally the biggest breakdown every time - so getting the team all on the same page, with a mix of skills is hugely important to improve client/agency relationships.

almost 3 years ago

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Arun Sudhaman

Very insightful post Kevin. You noted that the key question is “what does a client need in 2013?”. I wonder if, instead, is should be "what is a client willing to spend on in 2013?"

Because I think the two things are different. What a client needs isn't always what they buy, particularly as so many clients are not integrated and continue to buy services according to specific teams and existing siloes.

We've covered this area in some detail where the PR industry is concerned, but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this observation relating to digital marketers.

almost 3 years ago

Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director at BlueGlass

@Arun very good point - and I think the two questions very much go hand in hand.

The way I prefer to look at this is with budget as no object first. That way you're doing your job and recommending everything you can - then you can start to look at budget constraints and prioritisation of tasks afterwards.

And regarding the integration of digital marketers - I would suggest applying this across your whole marketing team if you can.

I recently ran a content marketing workshop for a brand, where the idea was to get everyone together (SEOs, content writers, UX designers etc) and to build a editorial content plan and strategy which they can all run off of. That's the goal - it's bringing everything together where all marketers can contribute from their own different perspectives.

almost 3 years ago

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Aaron Bradley

Thanks for your kind comment about my SemTechBiz article Kevin.

I think your assessment is spot on. And it's been interesting over the years seeing the components that comprise "search marketing" grow, change and become more and more specialized.

Somewhat ironically, I know of big companies that have been unwilling to hire search marketing (and related) specialists in-house because they believe that they'll get more "cutting edge" strategies and techniques from agencies, that are presumably on top of such things.

"Ironically" because in my experience (having worked in-house, as an independent contractor and with agencies) what agencies excel more at than keeping on top of industry developments is billing protocols. "Somewhat" because that, of course, depends on the agency.

Interesting times as the discipline continues to be a sum of ever more granular specializations at the very same time that other aspects of marketing become more integrated into the search mix.

With you I believe that the sensible path for most enterprises is a mix of in-house talent augmented by (hopefully integrated) agency support for particular specializations.

almost 3 years ago

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Cliff

Integration is more important than ever because the power of synergy. Planning out the social media effort, content creation strategy, SEO, SEM, and all areas of marketing can be a difficult task that yields the best results.

almost 3 years ago

Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director at BlueGlass

@Aaron - thanks for leaving your thoughts, completely agree - more and more brands are hiring agencies more for their industry knowledge, experience and to keep up-to-date with common trends.

Often this is more for reassurance that they are doing the right thing - so that they can work together on a strategy, rather than completely outsourcing it. So it's definitely more of a mix between in-house and agency as an approach, rather than one or the other.

@Cliff, couldn't agree more - synergy can often be difficult to justify as USP, mainly being it isn't easy to view as a tangible asset. But once you start to see the momentum (something else that isn't easy to value at first!), you can begin to see how powerful it is to get everyone working on pushing forward as a single unit.

To use a football analogy, it's a Swansea City rather than a team of Galácticos - great players will help you win of course, but it's the teamwork and solidarity that gets results - so that you can punch above your weight.

almost 3 years ago

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