There’s been a lot of chatter lately about the changing role of the marketing agency. I find that topic especially interesting because I work side by side with agencies to help them expand their service offering through marketing automation.
Marketing agencies are being held more and more accountable for measurable results. General brand awareness isn’t good enough. Clients are demanding revenue-driving programs that have direct impact on the bottom line and are proven through big data and analytics.
And it’s at that point that many agencies stumble.
Most agencies I speak with are still using their creative services and promotional offerings just for building brands. They are communicating success to their clients based upon website traffic, top-ranking keywords, clicks, social likes, and form submissions for soft assets like whitepapers and ebooks. They put their time, energy, and client’s money towards brand attraction—while forgetting that 70% of the buying process is completed before a prospect ever speaks to the salesperson.
I believe that if an agency is going to deliver the results that clients demand, the agency needs to become responsible for brand building and revenue generation. That means evolving and expanding its service offering, so the company isn’t just feeding the sales funnel but actually nurturing those leads to improve sales readiness and to increase conversions.
I’m certain the idea of taking responsibility for brand building and revenue generation is a bit overwhelming for most agencies. Many lack the infrastructure, technology, and manpower to provide the services necessary to own it all. But consider this: Jeff Ernst of Forrester Research estimates that only about 5% of marketers (clients) use a full-featured marketing automation solution. That’s a huge opportunity for a marketing agency willing to assume responsibility for nurturing and engaging potential buyers flowing through the sales funnel.
The crossover from brand builder to revenue generator is not as daunting a task as it may sound.
Here are a few areas to focus on.
Positioning. Offer a comprehensive managed service line-up—soup to nuts. Companies are looking for external support to fill the gaps inside. Agencies that can manage the attract-engage-convert stream are the ones clients will increasingly select.
Services. Content planning, creation and management are demand areas for agencies. Delivering on revenue goals demands targeted, relevant content delivered at the appropriate time in the buy cycle. Companies are struggling to deliver this internally.
Systems and processes. Managing the funnel is a tough and demanding job even with marketing automation. Ensuring that you have a process in place that can be replicated easily for each new client you add allows you to grow without cutting your profit margin.
Technology. Marketing automation is a requirement for agencies looking to provide full support to their clients. It lessens manpower demand, ensures the right touch at the right time, and provides accountability to clients.
Accountability. The pursuit of ROI for the client needs to be the No. 1 priority in the form of revenue, not just campaign KPIs (key performance indicators). Leverage your marketing automation system and your client’s CRM to gather data that tracks performance every step of the way.
While I believe marketing agencies need to evolve for their survival, I can understand the hesitation to do so. Change is hard, especially when you’re not sure where to start.