There are a couple of compelling reasons why clients are gravitating to full-service agencies. Spinach’s Craig Flanders explains.
Last year, Bega made news when it switched its media buying duties to Thinkerbell, effectively consolidating its agency activities into one full-service offering.
Jalna Dairy made a similar move appointing Spinach to handle media activities adding to the creative duties we’d already been assigned.
Maybe someone is putting something in the milk but probably not. Marketers are simply seeing how much more valuable a fully immersed, full-service agency relationship can be, as opposed to a vast and disparate agency roster.
As we’ve discovered at Spinach, offering clients a complete service means you get to understand their business far deeper, far quicker. When you are delivering more services, you have more reasons to be talking about different aspects of the business. The more you talk, the more you learn and the better you understand the challenges. It makes for much more efficient problem-solving.
For CMOs trying to solve genuine business challenges, having a collection of specialist agencies is unlikely to yield a similarly efficient or effective solution. If you go to the digital agency with a problem, you’ll get a myopic answer as you will if you go to a stand-alone creative agency, a social agency, a media agency etc. Taking a business challenge to a full-service agency means finding the right solution no matter the discipline without having to deal with competing priorities or interests.
By and large, full-service offers clients a better coordinated more insightful partnership which leads to more effective work and, in turn, better commercial outcomes. And when you get all that in the one package, there’s the added bonus of considerable time and effort efficiencies.
I reckon we’re only going to see more clients consolidating their agencies and taking up the full-service proposition. This will speed up alongside technology which is already moving faster than a feminist at CFMEU headquarters.
Tech-driven bottom of the funnel activities such as mass personalisation require media, tech, data and creative people to understand the context of message delivery. Without bringing together expertise in all of these areas, efforts in this department will end up reverting to mindless, boring retargeting campaigns. The reality is that full-service can deliver on the promise of integrated communications in ways others cannot.
That said, if you’re a client-side marketer who has been considering the switch to full-service, there are a couple of caveats.
Firstly, dig below the glossy sales spiel to ensure what’s on offer is a true full-service. Just because an agency puts a bunch of people from different disciplines in a room, it doesn’t mean they can actually deliver on the full-service promise. The people need to be smart, naturally inquisitive and, most importantly, thinking about business problems, not just advertising problems. They also need a reasonable understanding of the other team member’s skill sets.
Ask the prospective agency if they are working under one profit and loss statement. If they’re not, walk away because you don’t want your business to be at the centre of a tussle between competing bottom lines, or siloed targets that might affect the recommendation of the day.
It’s worth doing your due diligence because the end result is the genuine trusted advisor you have been looking for.
Craig Flanders is the CEO of Melbourne agency Spinach.