While the numbers are increasing, Marketers are still not convinced that using a digital-only firm is the best way to go.

In our most recent RSW/AgencySearch survey, only 27%of Marketers state that they use a digital-only firm.  While an increase from 2009…it’s only a modest one (25% of Marketers stated that they use a digital-only firm in 2009).

And as Marketers look forward, a significant number (61%) do not anticipate hiring a digital-only firm.

This represents no change from how Marketers responded in 2009.

While the hot digital-only shop will be fine for some, for many, the needs will require more.

In this year’s Mirren Agency New Business Conference and at this year’s Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMMA) conference, integration was a major theme.

What happens too often when a digital-only firm is employed is that it becomes the Marketer’s job to make sure that there is communication across the aisle to align what’s happening on the traditional and the digital side of the fence.  During one of our first Agency searches for Domain Chandon, this was exactly the case.  The Director of Marketing had 4 or 5 different “specialist” Agencies that he was managing and in the end, simply couldn’t do it all. 

P&G has tried to change the model a bit by assigning its global lead Agency as the oversee-er of the brand and has placed requirements on the need to use a certain number of “best in class” Agencies outside of the lead Agency’s global network.  I have heard confidentially from sources inside P&G that there are some questions about the strength of this model.

So what does this mean for you, the Marketer?

While finding one firm that can do it all is no easy task, it is do-able.  It just takes a good set of eyes and ears to make sure you’re asking the right questions during the search.  And it also requires you to push a bit once you’ve established the relationship with the Agency.  While the expectation is they are going to do all the pushing and leading, reality is, it won’t always happen that way.

And you have to realize that an Agency relationship should be a collaborative one.  You shouldn’t hire your Agency and then ignore them, expecting that they can do it all themselves.  They need a bit of you to make it all work.