Full Service Agency vs. Marketing Consultancy
How Brands Utilize Marketing Has Changed
Marketing is ever expanding with new additions in marketing channels. As the world has evolved, how brands market their products and services has too. Growing from traditional media like tv, radio, and print into social media and apps, marketing has seen some pretty significant changes over the years. While the opportunity to reach a target audience has expanded, creating content, choosing channels, and knowing how to utilize these channels can be a pain point for brands.
Luckily, new channels aren’t the only addition to the marketing industry. The industry has grown to include niche marketing agencies and consulting firms. Brands now have more options than ever when it comes selecting experts to manage their marketing investment, so how do they choose?
Full Service vs. Niche Agencies
Full-service marketing agencies use a holistic approach to marketing strategy, but they are not cost efficient. Large agencies have overhead that inflate pricing. (Think about it–you have to keep everyone paid, but may not have enough work. During slow months, you still have to pay for web architects, graphic designers, writers, project managers, etc.) Niche agencies have sprung up–but don’t have inflated pricing (because they don’t have the overhead). Niche agencies are composed of experts in a specialized area of marketing and they charge only for services related to that area. Rather than relying on full-service agencies to sell you all they can do, business owners can now choose to pay for just the services they need (and the quality is just as good if not better with the specialized agencies).
What a Consultancy Offers Brands
Consultancies focus on the 360 degree view of the business goals, offering lean marketing strategies that bring accountability and roi to the table. They analyze market potential, channel potential, the behavior of the target audience, and historical performance. Solutions fit the business goals and the budget.
Focusing on too many channels at once can actually hurt a business. Or investing too much in creative services can reduce the ability to get the necessary reach. Consultants are constantly evaluating the efficiency of channels and the effectiveness of the overall marketing investment to ensure less waste and better results. Consultancies (like OpGo) can partner with niche agencies to bring the most effective solutions to the table.
How Does OpGo Fit?
OpGo Marketing is a consultancy that offers centralized marketing solutions. We work with brands of all sizes throughout the country to plan, measure and optimize marketing investments. Rather than becoming a full service agency, we see our future in lean marketing budgets and strong partner relationships to help businesses reach their goals. We are different than full service agencies in many ways…such as we don’t charge commission for media buys or mark-ups for partner services. An investment in OpGo is more like hiring a team member. We work right along side our clients and their existing marketing teams to help bring effective solutions to the table.
The first step to optimizing your marketing investment is to measure your marketing efforts. A great place to start is to ask questions like these:
- How have customers found you in the past?
- What is the cost to acquire a new customer?
- Which channels are driving leads and conversions efficiently?
- What percentage of your traffic is organic?
- What is the path to purchase?
- What is the close rate by sales person?
The answers to questions like these and others set a baseline for allocating funds when building an optimizing a marketing plan.
Customer research is also key. OpGo takes a look at your target audience and how they interact with your brand. Knowing how your customer feels about your brand will help businesses learn where they can improve, which will in turn, increase repeat purchases and referrals to bring in new customers.
By examining the performance trend of your past goals, we determine which channels will help achieve future goals. Then using analytic tools, we continuously measure growth, trends, and cost…because marketing channels and consumer behavior are in a constant state of change. Thanks to automation of data and dashboards, our team helps makes informed recommendations. Knowing what works and what doesn’t will allow you to tweak your strategies and help you reach your goals more efficiently and cost effectively.
3 Tips for Effective Marketing Communication
A brand’s entire existence is dependent upon communication. It’s easy to take this for granted since we use communication in all aspects of life, but effective communication is critical in marketing. It’s more than someone not getting a job because of spelling errors on their LinkedIn profile or because they wore a wrinkly shirt to an interview; It’s a matter of brand existence. Marketing communication feels more two-way today than it was 10 years ago, but the fact is, marketing communication has never been one-way. Feedback was just delayed with traditional channels (TV, radio, print, outdoor).
According to Psychology Today, “The most common problem that we can make as message senders is coding our thought, feeling or need in a way that has a low chance of being understood by the receiver.” To be effective at communication, consider Aristotle’s three elements of great communication: ethos (credibility), pathos (emotional bond), and logos (logic) as discussed in 2013 by Scott Edinger, Harvard Business Review.
Here are three tips on how to be effective in your marketing communication:
1. Be authentic.
Before you craft your marketing messages, listen to the needs of your target audience. Hand out samples and do pro bono work with a goal of getting quality feedback. Don’t follow and copy your competitors. If you are constantly comparing yourself to your competitors, you will become them. Focus on your customers (personas) and craft your messages for them; Then watch your brand’s authenticity start to shine.
2. Create a feedback loop.
The definition of communication is the “imparting or exchanging of information.” Duh, right? The point is communication is an “exchange” of information. There are always signals being sent back to your brand, but you may not be capturing them. Don’t just rely on transactions (sales) as your key performance indicator. Be proactive and set up other signals that indicate what you are doing right and where you can improve. Don’t rely on email and/or pop-up surveys. They are way over-used and may result in a negative influence on the survey. Social media engagement and reviews are additional ways to get feedback.
3. Keep up with marketing technology.
Companies like Facebook and Google are able to provide insights to help you know your customers better, but you have to invest the time learning how to use them. Make sure features (maps, shopping carts, videos, catalogs, etc.) on your website work on all screens (desktop, tablet, mobile). Know what technology is available to help you learn and serve your customers better. iBeacon adoption is one area to monitor. Marketing technology isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. The best way to keep up with technology is pay attention to thought leaders and innovators in the “martech” industry. There are many sources within the industry that do a great job of keeping marketers informed. Here is a short list to start:
How to Choose a Marketing Channel
When choosing a marketing channel, it is easy to get stuck in a pattern of doing something the way it’s always been done. All the choices are paralyzing–aand new ones keep popping up. Internet globalization continues to put competition is right outside your door. It’s time to let go of your fear of digital marketing channels and give your competition a run for their money!
Focus on Success
Hone in on what success will look like in the end. Focus on your marketing goals and make initial assumptions about which marketing channels you feel may be the right ones. These assumptions will evolve into concrete solutions if you follow the process outlined ahead.
Strip yourself of your own bias and mentally suit up as your buyer. Why should they buy from you? What makes you different from your competitor?
Walk the Journey
Map out the touch points in your buyer’s path to purchase. What channels are they using to find you? What triggered the need? What is influencing and/or interfering with their decision to choose you? Friend’s opinion? Staff feedback? Loyalty to the competitor? How does this ideal buyer spend his/her time? Sitting behind a desk? Constantly in meetings? Watching sports on TV? And what is the most important feature of your service to this particular buyer?
Ask for Feedback
Start asking your existing customers what made them choose you. There is nothing more valuable than raw feedback from your existing customers. Be sure there is a neutral party asking the questions.
Analysis of Marketing Channels
Here is a list of factors to consider when choosing your marketing channel(s):
- Cost-per-thousand (cost per thousand impressions)
- Minimum investment (some media outlets require minimums)
- Length of campaign
- Reach (unique viewers, not overall total impressions)
- Frequency (needs to match the objective and factor in channel “noise”)
- Number of total channels (impacts reach and frequency of all channels)
- Message type (viewer impact and cost of production)
An example is shown in the chart below from Peter J Solomon Company (2015) where you can compare cost-per-thousand (CPM) of TV, radio, video, mobile, display, outdoor, magazines, newspapers, and more. You may take one look at the cost-per-thousand of newspaper and immediately omit it from your marketing plan. But, be sure you are thinking about each channel from your buyer’s perspective—you may decide that is your number one channel.
Channels and content strategy
The marketing channels chosen must fit within the content strategy. An ad within a channel is one touchpoint along a journey within the overall ‘content strategy’. A buyer’s journey is influenced by all of the interaction and experiences they have both online and offline. Be sure the channels you choose are synchronized as much as possible. When it comes to timing and frequency of ads within your channel(s), refer to the buying cycle. Ads should interact with your buyer within a channel with a set time and mental state in mind.
Choosing a media channel is not easy, but when you think and act like your buyer, you can choose with confidence. If you practice, you will be able to see the response from your buyers. You will also consistently remain relevant and competitive.