Agency business Communications Integrated Marketing / Marketing communications

Agency business Communications Integrated Marketing

The Current Picture
Image by cleonleclerc

Consider how companies integrate agencies and consultants into the modern, multichannel marketing environment.

Contrary to today’s blogosphere conversation, CMOs, other C-level business executives, and their marketing lieutenants still drive marketing strategy in organizations. Agencies and consultants vary in role from strategic partner to tactical provisioning.

We live in an era of big agencies and small boutiques. On one hand, you have large national and international agencies that offer a wide variety of services. They acquire various talents to provide conglomerate offerings from traditional branding to social media. These super agencies win the business of large companies that need massive scalable marketing operations.

With each new decade, we see more and more small players that specialize in a unique custom area of marketing (mobile, local, infographics etc.). Because they are better than their larger counterparts within specialized niches, they pick off small contracts from the large enterprises, subcontract to larger marketing and PR agencies, and service small businesses and nonprofits.

Let’s discuss how companies use third party vendors, then the current landscape of agencies and consultants as presented by marketing bloggers.

Burn and Churn

The above chart represents a CMO’s office in a small, but well established company. You have the CMO, and her/his lieutenants in PR, advertising, interactive and research/strategy.

Companies see agencies as free agent partners to execute tactical projects and tasks. When the partner no longer produces, their contract ends or is terminated.

ModernCMOIt’s pretty simple. Burn and churn.

You can see the consultancies screaming right now: “We’re strategic partners!!! We’re not tactical.”

Yes, agencies and consultancies do drive periodic brilliance. But make no doubt about 98% of the time it’s still on the front line. Even if hired to hone marketing strategy, agencies and consultants still live by the sword. If their strategies don’t produce results, they gut cut.

Move Towards the Round

The traditional model of line management presents inefficiencies for the marketing department. This second chart shows a more modern version of the marketing department as typified by the round theory in my new book co-authored with Gini Dietrich.

Instead of silos, departments are working together to achieve the central CMO strategy. Agency partners — while classified under their internal manager — sit in a larger unformed circle.

They are brought into formal discussions as situations demand, say presentation of market research to inform the larger round or to show a new ad campaign. As vendors become more trusted, they migrate towards the center of the circle.

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