The rise of the full-service marketing agency provides opportunities for growth companies in need of a marketing and communications makeover
By Ron Truman
PROFITguide.com, September 1, 2005.
The idea of using an ad agency is nothing new. For years, entrepreneurs have relied on outside advertising and graphic design specialists to come up with creative campaigns and snappy slogans that sell their product. Today, however, growth companies are catching on to a new trend—they are not just outsourcing the "artsy" side of marketing, but the entire marketing function. Full-service marketing companies are offering everything from ad creative, logo and tagline creation to public relations strategy and execution, packaging and product positioning. CEOs are making the most of it.??
Bringing in experienced marketers to work as a business partner can cost you about the same as an in-house marketing department (minus associated employee overhead), says Carolyn Reid, president of the Toronto-based Marketing Department, a company that creates integrated marketing plans and specializes in the ongoing management of marketing strategy and sales effectiveness, but she adds the benefits are numerous.??
For one thing, it takes time and resources to hire and train employees to do your marketing and to find suppliers who will produce the marketing and sales products you will need. By outsourcing, you can choose marketers who specialize in working with businesses in your field, have experience that can lead to new approaches for your business and bring with them a roster of suppliers for dependable creation of marketing and sales products. An additional advantage is that as your need for marketing effort increases or decreases, you can scale the marketing effort without adding or laying off employees.??
Nevertheless, it’s not just a matter of picking a partner and leaving them to it. Entrepreneurs need to be constantly building rapport with their marketing partner and working closely with them.
“Collaboration is essential,” says Reid. “You will get your best results when you consider your marketing partner part of your company and not an outsider in an ivory tower.”
If you don’t feel comfortable relying on a third party for all your marketing needs, or you don’t have the budget to, it is still possible to outsource one or two elements of your strategy. Chris Ward of Riverhorse America, for example, specializes in creating positive public reputations for his clients through branding. He says if a company is “reluctant to go off the deep end” by committing a large budget to marketing, it “can dip its toe in the water and still reap some significant benefits.”
Ward's Toronto-based strategic branding agency will develop a plan, create a logo and tagline for its clients, then ensure all advertising, public relations and other communications programs are consistent with the brand in both messaging and look and feel. For a company with 10 employees in a business-to-business market, Ward says the upfront investment in branding can range from $10,000 to $40,000 depending on how much research and staff involvement is required and whether or not the company has to develop a totally new visual identity.
Whether you decide to outsource your entire marketing department or just part of it, marketing partners can help your company create a creative strategy that will help push your business forward. And that's a very good thing, says Ward: "Companies that successfully distinguish themselves from their competitors and work at creating a positive image are worth more."
© 2005 Ron Truman