Do Today’s Marketers Still Need Agencies?

D

The role of ad agencies and how they support their client businesses has evolved over time. It used to be just a case of a company developing a marketing strategy, and then sharing it with their agency who would then take over the creation, planning and execution of appropriate campaigns.

Today, things are much more complicated. For a start, there are many more channels available to reach customers – including a plethora of digital channels which need to be handled in real-time. Executing a strategy, and planning which content appears at what time and on what channel has become a real challenge.

Technology is also playing a leading role in marketing today. Marketers are now faced with a confusing array of solutions, in particular in the enterprise software “top of the funnel’ lead generation or analytics space. You would be forgiven for thinking that this deployment of technologies must have significantly improved marketing effectiveness, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. It’s been widely accepted by marketers that of all the leads generated and fed into the top of the funnel, only two to three percent can be expected to survive to turn into revenue.

At the same time, two thirds of all companies are not creating content that is tailored to meet the different demands of discrete buyer groups. And to make things even more challenging for B2B marketers, it is now harder than ever to bring the notoriously lengthy B2B sales cycles to a close.

What’s behind these ever-declining success rates? It’s because we’re getting bogged down in the process of creating and sending out content to feed the sales funnel, and in the process, we are missing an overarching approach. We need to take a step back and define a clear strategy at the outset based on three key factors: customer status, content type and engagement channel. It’s absolutely crucial to identify these elements before signing up for the latest shiny technology – which can’t be expected to make a difference in isolation.

It is defining this overarching approach that should be the primary responsibility of agencies today. But many let themselves be pigeonholed into undertaking communications in a more familiar way, or just do what the client asks them to do. Others shy away from doing the preparatory legwork in favor of focusing on the creative process and the deliverables. However the industry is changing, and the value that agencies bring needs to change too.

In the future, marketing will no longer be the preserve of a single department. Soon, every employee will be involved in creating marketing content, as information exchange between prospects and suppliers accelerates. The time for the careful channeling of messages through specialized channels will be over.

What prospective buyers want is a direct, transparent and honest exchange with company subject matter experts. The content and the message are key – while perfectly crafted and carefully designed communications materials become less relevant.

Marketers need the support of agencies capable of developing a campaign from the initial overarching concept, and establishing the framework that enables technology to be effectively deployed. They also need to be able to work with multiple different technology providers while enabling different stakeholders in the company to contribute to successful marketing outreach.

But it’s not just a case of implementing a few general strategies and some software. That’s why BrandMaker has developed the Customer Engagement Matrix – essentially a set of rules that can be implemented to deliver content customized to prospects, depending on their level of understanding of the issue in hand.

We’ve built this methodology directly into our software. This direct fusion of sales and marketing techniques is unique. Its implementation involves companies, agencies and technology providers working closely together. Agencies attend workshops to better understand the content required to optimize the process. This process is supplemented by BrandMaker’s consulting practice – which is responsible for managing the coordination of these different groups. In this way we can ensure that the customer isn’t just adding to a stable of technologies, rather they are significantly improving the nature of their marketing outreach, with all stakeholders involved.

Stephan Nobs By Stephan Nobs

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