Agencies come in all shapes and sizes. Some specialise in particular areas such as digital marketing while others take a broader approach working across multiple design, digital and marketing services; i.e. full-service.
The Dairy has always been a full-service agency and we believe this has been one of the keys to our success. We’re often asked by clients what it means to be a full-service agency and what the benefits of a full-service agency are, compared to collaborating with several different suppliers. For that reason, we thought it was about time we explained the advantages of this kind of agency-client relationship and what that could mean for your business and your brand.
Jack of all trades, master of none? No sir.
As in most walks of life, if you claim to know everything about something, the assumption can be made that you’re a jack of all trades with little knowledge about any of them. In our case, and in the case of any full-service marketing agency worth its salt, this simply is not true.
Proper full-service agencies recruit individuals who know specific areas of marketing like the back of their hand. Designers understand how to create engaging artwork, digital marketers know what makes an effective social media marketing campaign, copywriters can craft eye-catching on-brand content, and strategists understand what makes an effective marketing strategy.
Having round pegs in round holes allows a full-service agency to provide sound expertise and advice across all areas of marketing. This approach only falls down if your agency says it’s full-service, but is in fact a one or two-person band claiming to know everything about everything. That just won’t do.
If you’re selecting a full-service partner, make sure they have experts across different areas of marketing in order to effectively deliver on your strategy. A good starting point is to look at examples of their work and arrange a catchup to meet the team and get to know the people behind the business.
Say hello to your new marketing department
As we alluded to in the previous section, full-service agencies should comprise a team of people working across different areas. An immediate benefit to your business of employing a full-service agency is that over night you instantly gain a new outsourced marketing department.
We pride ourselves on our ability to collaborate with clients. We visit their place of work, meet the team, taste and smell their products, experience their services, and become truly invested in their brand and what they want to achieve. This should be the approach of any decent full-service marketing agency. If they’re unwilling to learn about you and your products or services, then they’re not the right fit. How can they market your brand if they don’t know anything about you?
Your agency should feel like your own marketing team. Granted, they will have other clients and you will never be able to dominate their time but when you do have access to them, they should be 100% invested and committed to you and your brand’s needs.
If it’s a match made in heaven, then suddenly you have at your disposal experts in a range of subject areas who are ready and willing to market your brand to the best of their abilities. And if your agency is on a retainer then chances are they’re more cost effective than hiring an in-house team of your own.
Save on expenditure
This neatly brings us onto the next benefit – cost. Building an in-house team of marketing professionals is great but it’s not always the most cost-effective option.
We’ve worked on a retainer model with clients for many years and found that it’s certainly more cost effective for the majority of businesses when compared to hiring their own team of people. In many cases, what a business would spend on one salary for a year, they can instead invest into a single agency’s expertise across multiple areas of marketing for the same period of time.
It’s worth speaking to your chosen agency to see what their hourly and day rates look like. This will allow you to calculate what you think you will spend with them in a typical year. When we work with a client to estimate a yearly retainer, we look at their needs and wants and give them an indication of how many days of our time we think they will need each month. We then times that by our day rate, which when multiplied by twelve, gives them a projected spend on our in-house services for the year.
In most cases a full-service agency retainer is far cheaper than hiring two or three people in-house – especially when you look outside of London. More and more brands are starting to realise that the quality of marketing doesn’t diminish the further away you go from the M25.
Collaborate to create long-term brand success
Marketing is a long game, we all know that. A brand needs love 365 days a year if it wants to remain fresh and ahead of its competitors. This is where collaborating with an agency provides additional benefit because by forming a long-lasting relationship, you can build for success in the long-term.
Utilise your full-service agency to build your marketing strategy and look at the bigger picture. What does brand success look like in 12 months time or 24 months time? You won’t know everything now, but you can set some goals and work towards something – even if the goal posts shift a little along the way.
We always talk about two core pillars at The Dairy – marketing strategy, and creative output. You can’t have the latter without the former. Full-service agencies can help you set the foundations for success before you go away and do all of the exciting creative work. The creativity has to be based on traditional marketing thinking, so make sure you’re taking this approach.
In the long-term, the results will be worth it and you’ll have an agency on board that’s invested in your success because they’ve been with you from the very beginning.
Consistency is key, and we have the key
Our final advantage links nicely to the previous benefit about long-term success. If you collaborate over time with one full-service provider, you will ultimately achieve greater consistency with your marketing.
Some brands use several agencies to facilitate different marketing services. However, having one agency for digital, and another for design, and a third for strategy, has a tendency to create a monster of a brand with no consistent output.
Going back to when we talked about having one team with expertise across all areas, therein lies the secret to consistency. Your full-service agency will know your brand inside out and its departments will be able to effectively collaborate on your projects to ensure that everything they produce is consistent with your brand’s mission, vision, values and strategy.
Communication inevitably becomes easier too because you only need to liaise with one agency for any given project. This in itself nurtures consistency because you know what to expect and how to get the best result. Spinning several agency plates will only confuse matters for you and your brand which can result in very costly mistakes.