Recently had a conversation with a VP Marketing about their needs and challenges as it relates to their marketing and agencies.

This particular company has been using a lot of agencies, each with their specific specialization.

While it’s true that an agency with a specific talent is going to be better than a generalist by some degree (questionable how much in certain situations, with certain agencies)…

…it is also true that bringing more talents under a single (or fewer roofs) can be a better way to go…for a number of reasons.

Here are three:

  1. Maintaining brand equity.  Too many cooks carrying messaging in slightly different directions can result in disjointed articulation of a brand’s core value proposition.  Too many cooks using different visual elements to carry brand messaging can also create confusion.  Even with a lead agency guiding the development of the overall campaign, it is never easy carrying it all forward in a consistent manner.  Agencies like to put their own individual stamp on things, which doesn’t lend itself well to taking direction.
  2. Herding cats is tough business.  This VP Marketing is responsible for coordinating all the activities of all the agencies.  No easy task – even for a team of marketing professionals.  One of our first searches, Domain Chandon, suffered from the same ill.  The Director of Marketing spent more time coordinating they he did planning and strategizing and thinking about his business.
  3. Integration is critical in today’s multi-sensory environment.  You need a lead agency that is carrying more of the responsibility of managing across media platforms so they can first, plan strategy, then second, plan the execution of that strategy.  Digital isn’t a world all in and of itself.  It is a delivery mechanism just like all the other delivery mechanisms Marketers have at their disposal.  Granted it’s a little more complicated and amorphous…it is however still a mouthpiece for your brand.  Relying on many agencies to coordinate or a single agency to care greatly about what the 5 other agencies are doing (when in the end, they really want the business the other agencies have) is not a sound strategy.

So what does this mean for you?

Simple.  You need to take a look at how your managing your brand and ask yourself if your time is being spent as usefully as it can – to the benefit of your brand.  And you need to look at your stable of agencies and decide if what you’re getting out of each separately, is really greater than what you could get with one smart, well-equipped agency that can operate as a true partner in shaping strategy, protecting equity, creating great efficiency, and speaking with one voice to your consumers.