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  • Azadeh Williams

Is the traditional 'agency' model dead?

The recent shifts in marketing spend and budget cuts have pushed many organisations to 'trim the fat', and the pr and marketing agencies that have been overcharging and under-delivering are now being exposed for what they are – a big waste of money.

Now with purse strings tightened, businesses are starting to weed out the wasters, and yes, some of the world's biggest media and marketing agencies are taking a hit.

More strings to your marketing bow

Those agencies who are running traditional models of providing media and public relations, without offering the full suite of inbound and content marketing services should be worried, very worried.

Traditional public relations agencies can no longer sit on chunky retainers, give clients 'one media placement' a month and expect a client to be ecstatic about the 'reach' and 'mindshare.'

Data-driven marketing is making metrics more transparent than ever, so the pressure is on agencies to now show real, tangible evidence of greater ROI, lead generation and demand generation. And with the evolution of digital marketing and social media, clients can now have their own media channels, their own webinars, podcasts, digital magazines, and attract far more views and engagement with their content than traditional press publications.

This means it's agencies that offer more holistic outsourced marketing service, integrating content, inboud marketing, lead gen, and PR, will be more likely to weather the storm.

A smart agency saves you money

If your agency can prove they can save you money instead of hiring inhouse, then you’re winning. Think about it: Why have a team of in-house, mid-tier pr, marketing and comms with mid-level experience, who are all sitting on full-time salaries, with relatively low output, when you can outsource to a specialist marketing firm, and get a highly seasoned, fully functioning team - at a fraction of that cost?

Many traditional in-house marketing roles, especially in large multi-national organisations, offer cushy, six figure salaries, involve more meetings over coffee than output and plenty of time to play 'post-it bingo' on whiteboards and call it 'strategy by scrum'. But slowly, these organisations are taking a look at what smart, forward-thinking marketing agencies deliver, against what their inhouse teams do (or don't do) - and realising where the value really lies.

Invest in a marketing partner, not an agency that sees you as 'another account on retainer'

The future agency model will fundamentally change. Clients are smartening up and want value, deliverables and results. So rigid retainer models and service lines need to change to meet client demands.

The old model of big agencies selling the dream of marketing wizardry and magical mindshare, then fobbing off the work to a junior is no longer going to cut it. Clients can see through the BS and with so much data at their fingertips, agencies are more accountable than ever.

How to choose the right marketing partner that will set you up for success:

  • Invest in a personalised approach: Your marketing partner should offer an integrated media, inbound and marketing strategy that's tailored to your specific needs, not a 'one size fits all' retainer model.

  • Hire senior, seasoned experts: the best in the industry who understand your customer pain points at a deeper level.

  • Don’t focus too heavily on top of the funnel activity: that just generates awareness and mindshare. Ensure your marketing and media partner has the capability to address all parts of the customer journey from awareness to consideration, to conversion.

Azadeh Williams is the Founder and Managing Partner of AZK Media.


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