By Meredith Kinsey

Newsflash: The Agency of Record Is Not Dead

(It’s more important than ever)

Up until recently, businesses had the option of bringing marketing in-house—hiring one or two people to manage all the marketing, branding, and advertising the company needed. And every so often, if a large scale initiative arose—new website, trade show, photo shoot, custom direct mail piece, etc.—these companies could pull in an outside agency or group to provide freelance or project help. After the one-off project was completed, the company could go right back to their in-house model. For a time, that worked fine. But no longer. That model is officially dead. And for companies to think otherwise, could mean the difference between marketing success and failure. Why?

Because modern marketing, driven by ever-evolving technological, digital, and mobile advances, is too specialized and time-consuming for one or two people to manage it effectively. It takes a team—an ongoing marketing partner who can help you navigate and integrate the complexities of ever-evolving modern-day marketing.

Whether they realize it or not (and many do!), companies are in dire need of sophisticated marketing help even if they already have an in-house marketing department. At FUEL, we talk to businesses every day, both large and small, and though they have deep knowledge of their particular industry and customer base, most feel overwhelmed with having to manage an ongoing integrated marketing program to build awareness, find new prospects, and engage existing customers across multiple channels. It’s a tall order. Brands have more options today than ever before, but with that comes inevitable confusion due to all the possible choices and outlets available. We hear the same concerns from virtually all clients:

How do I drive new leads? How can I reach my audience? What social channels are best? How often should I post? Do I need to blog? How do we know what’s working? What about SEO and SEM? How can I track ROI?

And so it goes, ad infinitum. What companies need, now more than ever, is a nimble, integrated, versatile, Agency of Record who can untangle the knot and develop an effective, sustainable, ongoing marketing strategy and plan. The question for companies isn’t: “Do we need a full-time marketing agency?” It is: “Who is the best full-time marketing agency for us?” The right agency will make sense of the chaos, and enable you to leverage digital and traditional media so that it helps your company build awareness, drive leads, and convert new customers. Here’s why an Agency of Record is so critical to success.

1. They give you a TEAM of experts and strategists

The days of getting an intern to “oversee” your social media are over. And no, your nephew shouldn’t manage your content marketing calendar while he’s home from college on vacation. When it comes to executing a successful marketing strategy in today’s world, no one person can do it all. There are too many silos of specialized knowledge that have to be leveraged and integrated together in order to be effective. You need a team of professionals who can come in and truly learn your business—your industry, your opportunities, your multiple target audiences—and develop ongoing, sustainable initiatives designed to build awareness, find new leads, and drive sales.

Strategic Writer: someone to oversee ongoing, relevant messaging

Designer: someone to create impactful graphics, video, charts, and visuals

Social Media Manager: someone to manage and coordinate posts and blogs

SEM Manager: someone to implement, track, measure, and analyze paid media

SEO Manager: someone to oversee all organic efforts and opportunities

2. They engage multiple audiences

A seasoned agency can ensure that you are getting the right messages, to the right people, in the right way. Whereas brands once dictated messages and campaigns, customers today are in control of the message and dictate how and where they want to receive information. It’s no longer about selling. It’s about helping your customers, engaging them in real dialog, and answering their questions. It’s about listening to their needs and making their lives easier. To do that effectively requires multiple layers of marketing prowess across a number of specialized fields (see above). It is absolutely critical that brands supply customers with relevant, ongoing information. You can’t simply start-and-stop your marketing like an old, beat-up car and expect to get anywhere. It won’t work. Success today depends on developing intentional lifecycle marketing—nurturing multiple audiences at various stages of the customer journey.

3. They offer digital and traditional marketing solutions

It’s not enough for an agency to be either digitally advanced or seasoned in traditional services: print, direct mail, art direction, and so on. They must excel in both areas in order to be effective. In essence, any agency you engage must be able to provide comprehensive, integrated services in order to create the right mix of solutions for your company. One or two people cannot achieve this. Ultimately, you need the right horses in the barn to win the race. And just as important as having specialized talent across the board is the reality that an agency must truly integrate its service areas so that the teams aren’t siloed but working together as one cohesive unit under one roof. That’s when the magic happens.

4. They help you drive leads consistently

This is ultimately what it’s all about. The right agency should offer the right mix of integrated services for your business to drive high quality leads. The emphasis is on quality not quantity. The more strategic and precise your marketing agency can be, the more effective they will be at finding the type of prospect you are looking for. After all, more leads isn’t the goal—better leads is. It comes down to the agency understanding what motivates your customers and then developing actionable initiatives that move the needle and get the results you want.

5. They provide real results and analytics to help you grow

At the end of the day, your agency should be transparent. They should be knowledgeable and honest enough to tell you plainly what is working well and what is not. They should have the behavioral marketing tools and automated marketing processes in place that enable companies to gather information about individuals or groups at each stage of the customer journey. This, in turn, enables the agency to identify new opportunities and analyze the real-time numbers and results. The goal is to get smarter and smarter over time so that you can engage and influence your target segments at each stage of the sales cycle. To do that, everything must be trackable.

Bottom Line: an Agency of Record helps you build sustainable growth

Having a good product or service is not enough. Knowing your customer base is not enough. The digital era that we live in means that businesses no longer control the message. Your customers do. They have more information and solutions at their fingertips than ever before. To win them over and keep them delighted over time requires that you give them ongoing, useful information that they need/want/crave to help make their lives better or simpler or more fulfilling. Customers want real engagement and dialog not a one-sided conversation. Selecting the right agency ensures that you will have the critical tools and expertise necessary to attract qualified prospects and customers that enable you to achieve long-term success.

We’d love to hear from you

If you have questions or want to learn more about landing pages for your business, please contact Annalynn Barnett at annalynn@fuelingbrands.com or call 864-627-1676.