Brands need to trim the fat, starting with waste-of-money agencies

COVID-19 has forced brands to tighten their purse strings and examine the value of their agency partners. And according to Azadeh Williams, many of the PR and marketing agencies that have been overcharging and under-delivering are finally being exposed.

The recent shifts in marketing spend and budget cuts have pushed many organisations to ‘trim the fat’. And the PR and marketing agencies that have been overcharging and under-delivering are being exposed for what they are – a big waste of money.

Now, with the purse strings tightened, businesses are starting to weed out the wasters, and yes, some of the world’s biggest media and marketing agencies are taking a hit.

Many agencies are a waste of money, says Williams

More strings to your marketing bow

The agencies with traditional models of providing media and public relations – without offering the full suite of inbound and content marketing services – should be worried. Very worried.

Traditional public relations agencies can no longer sit on chunky retainers, give clients ‘one media placement’ a month, and expect a client to be ecstatic about the ‘reach’ and ‘mindshare’.

Data-driven marketing is making metrics more transparent than ever, so the pressure is on agencies to show real, tangible evidence of greater ROI, lead generation and demand generation. And with the evolution of digital marketing and social media, clients can now have their own media channels, webinars, podcasts, digital magazines, and attract far more views and engagement with their content than traditional press publications.

This means it’s agencies that offer more holistic outsourced marketing services, integrating content, inbound marketing, lead generation, and PR that will be more likely to weather the storm.

A smart agency saves you money

If your agency can prove it can save you money instead of hiring in-house, you’re winning.

Think about it: Why have a team of in-house, mid-tier PR, marketing and comms staff with mid-level experience, all sitting on full-time salaries, with relatively low output, when you can outsource to a specialist marketing firm and get a highly seasoned, fully functioning team – at a fraction of the cost?

Many traditional in-house marketing roles, especially in large multi-national organisations, offer cushy, six-figure salaries, involve more meetings over coffee than output, and feature plenty of time to play ‘post-it bingo’ on whiteboards and call it ‘strategy by scrum’. But slowly, these organisations are taking a look at what smart, forward-thinking marketing agencies deliver, against what their in-house teams do (or don’t do), and realising where the value really lies.

Invest in a marketing partner, not an agency that sees you as ‘another account on retainer’

The future agency model will fundamentally change. Clients are smartening up and want value, deliverables and results. So rigid retainer models and service lines need to change to meet client demands.

The old model of big agencies selling the dream of marketing wizardry and magical mindshare, then fobbing off the work to a junior, is no longer going to cut it. Clients can see through the BS and with so much data at their fingertips, agencies are more accountable than ever.

Choosing the right partner

Invest in a personalised approach; your marketing partner should offer an integrated media, inbound and marketing strategy that’s tailored to your specific needs, not a ‘one size fits all’ retainer model.

Hire senior, seasoned experts, the best in the industry who understand your customer pain points at a deeper level.

And don’t focus too heavily on top of the funnel activity, that just generates awareness and mindshare. Ensure your marketing and media partner has the capability to address all parts of the customer journey from awareness to consideration, and conversion.

Azadeh Williams is the founder and managing partner of AZK Media


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