Integrated agencies seem to be well-placed for the future. But there’s still challenges to be faced. Jodie Williams provides three ways to future-proof the integrated agency
Done well, integration is conducive to strong client relationships and great project outcomes; when you’re involved in every aspect of a client’s marketing and PR plans you almost become an extension of their in-house team. You can also develop a deeper understanding of their objectives and daily processes, which gives you a better chance of delivering the exact strategic marketing they need.
Looking forward however, integration presents a host of new challenges. Advances in technology and big data are pushing some traditional agencies outside of their comfort zones, while resource-hungry techniques like account-based marketing (ABM) will take careful planning if smaller agencies want to get their teams home before 10pm every evening.
The increasing demand for personalised, multi-channel marketing puts power into the hands of those agencies that can do it all. There are three key things that integrated agencies should do to future-proof themselves:
1. Recruit well
Let’s get something straight; integrated does not mean jacks of all trades. While you want your agency to be able to do everything, you’ll most definitely want team members with specialist skills. Guess who does design best? That’s right: a designer. And while PR and marketing go hand-in-hand, you’ll need a PR specialist if you want to maximise your clients’ coverage. Integrated agencies should ideally have experts in all key disciplines and should continue to upskill their talent as those disciplines evolve. You will benefit from increased resilience and your clients benefit from access to every specialism under one agency contract (aka easier communication
and streamlined overheads).
2. Collaborate wisely
For many agencies, there’ll be instances when the niche software solution or specialist skill your client wants simply can’t be provided in-house. For example, you’d expect a digital agency to have an in-depth knowledge of programming languages and content management systems that an integrated agency may not have. What the digital agency can’t necessarily do as well as an integrated agency is maximise the ROI of their niche offering by using it as one part of a perfectly cohesive, mixed-channel campaign. Both agencies have much to gain from working in partnership.
3. Build closer client relationships
ABM is red-hot right now – and this type of personalised marketing will undoubtedly shape the future of our industry. The best integrated agencies are the ones who integrate their teams with those of the client. The successful agency of the future also knows that creativity and consistency is always enhanced by a close client relationship.
We believe that traditional integrated agencies will continue to hold unique value for businesses far into our digitised future. Those who remain strongest will be those willing not only to continually upskill their internal teams but also to collaborate with the digital wizards that can help their client campaigns meet their full potential.
This year’s league table features a record-breaking 95 agencies, and is chock-full of analysis, commentary and interview with the agencies themselves and on the state of the market.