Is the multiple agency model working for you?

Matt Daunt
The Certainty Principle
Is the multiple agency model working for you?

As more and more messages fight for our attention, and channels further fragment, it’s near impossible to keep on top of the changing media landscape. As a result, many businesses find themselves engaging with multiple specialist agencies to find solutions to their specific marketing needs.

While engaging various specialists works well for some companies, the reality is that it rarely works for small and medium enterprises for a number of reasons.

The time it takes

From selecting agencies, to managing suppliers day-to-day, simply maintaining multiple agency relationships puts a huge strain on a marketing departments resource. This is time that would be better spent driving the marketing strategy.

And if several agencies are briefed to deliver different components of the same project, this is inefficient and adds unnecessary complexity.

The cost

Engaging multiple agencies often ends up being more expensive due to the fact that there aren’t the economies of scale that would exist if only one agency was briefed. And while it’s never talked about, agency bosses often put pressure on their account service staff to seek out any additional billing opportunities and steal briefs from other suppliers. So rather than working as a team to deliver the best result, they’re focused on trying to outsmart each other to get more for themselves.

Spreading budget across agencies also means less leverage when negotiating fees, and paying for duplication of services, so from the get-go companies are paying a premium.

The service

The more a company is invested in an agency, the more that agency can invest in the right people and services to ensure their client’s needs are met, and ensure they are treated as a priority.

From a practical point of view, if a single agency isn’t responsible for developing and producing all of a brands requirements, they can’t be held accountable if the result is a mishmash of activity in market.

That’s not to say full service agencies don’t have their flaws. Because they are typically large; they’re more expensive, their delivery timelines are much longer than boutique agencies, and while while many purport to have specialist skills, this is often a general knowledge of multiple specialties rather than being at the forefront of the skillset that specialist agencies can offer.

There is another way – the  ‘co-op’ agency model

In response to the changing media landscape, some boutique advertising and creative agencies engage specialist services on behalf of their client. This means that the client gets all the benefits of having experts work on their business but only have to deal with their core agency. If things go wrong, it’s up to the agency to manage their specialist suppliers, not the client.

This also means the main agency retains responsibility for budget, creative consistency and quality of output, freeing up the marketing team to focus on more productive endeavours.

This approach is the way forward for many small and medium size businesses as it gives them all the benefit of a single agency relationship, while giving them certainty that they can access the specialist services they need.