“FULL-SERVICE” AGENCIES AREN’T ACTUALLY GIVING YOU A FULL SERVICE

A couple of years ago the founder of Helios Media, Alexandra Golaszewska, said that working with a full service agency is only good if the agency is good at all of the services it offers. I could not disagree more, even if it means resorting to baseball to describe why a full service agency is best and why most that make the claim are really specialists pretending to offer a full service.

In the baseball movie Moneyball (starring Brad Pitt as Billy Beane), the rich teams can afford superstars. The Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane cannot. Instead, he puts together a team based on the theory that on-base percentage (micro-gains by a team collectively) could beat a team of superstars. The A’s go on to win an unprecedented 20 consecutive games — an American League record (I’m not a baseball fan, but I do like inspiring movies).

Superstars don’t win games on their own. Teams do.

Specialist agencies know this. They also know that clients are frustrated at having to deal with multiple agencies with multiple agendas. As somebody who has been on the client side of the desk, I know that the politics and the petty squabbling is incredibly frustrating and reason enough to work with only one agency. It’s the reason why many agencies that are really specialists, will claim to be ‘full service’. A survey of those claiming to be full service agencies will list four, five or six services — sometimes as many as ten — but all within a particular credo and specialist focus, for example digital, brand, public relations or social media.

“Taking a best-of-breed approach to managing this consumer experience will invariably lead to what can be described as fiefdoms of expertise. Within each fiefdom, there will be talent and management who believe their specific expertise represents the most important aspect of the customer journey. This, in turn, makes it unnecessarily difficult — and sometimes very costly — to devise and execute the integrated, cross-platform, communication needed to compel customers.” — Laura Sheridan, president brand strategy and search firm Viva La Brand.

Full-service means being able to offer a full range of services for a full outcome. In fact, the definition of a full agency twelve months ago is different than it is from today. The full service agency of today and tomorrow needs to offer everything — media, creative, marketing and sales into one seamless offering (including ‘sales’ in the mix is not a typo).

Historically, there’s been quite a disparity between marketing and sales, and I haven’t seen any agencies yet that have been able to combine the two smoothly. This separation ultimately affects how leads are qualified.

For example, you could have your creative and your marketing agency on one side, and then your sales department on the other. The consequence is that creative may do a campaign that is backed by a marketing campaign which generates a whole pile of leads, but the problem is that those leads haven’t been qualified at all. This can cause a lot of unnecessary work for the sales team.

At Attain, we want to change this. We integrate the crucial phase of lead qualification and give clients the information, tools and training to engage the leads we have generated using insights from our automation platform SharpSpring.

The other side of it is that there’s typically been uncertainty in the market as to how organisations can effectively combine the skillsets of tech, creative, operations and admin in the whole process because they’re all very distinct areas — and generally very different types of people as well. So, it’s important that agencies understand that they must figure out a way of allowing those four teams to work together to achieve a desired outcome.

What also happens quite often as a result of disjointed teams is that clients end up having four or five different ‘full-service’ agencies working for them, and then realise that they’ve also got four or five different key messages in the market. That’s an issue because it creates friction and confusion. When you create confusion, you’re not going to create sales.

Clients want and need one accountability, one key message, one brand — and no politics.

If I was to define what we really are, Attain is a full-service revenue growth agency, and because we have that outcome in mind, we’re able to ensure that the campaigns and workflow that we’ve developed is custom designed for the client. The end result of sales (every process that takes place is aligning and intertwining together to come back to the main purpose).

Alexandra Donaghy – Marketing & Creative Director
M: 09 366 1665
E: alex@weareattain.com
W: weareattain.com

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