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Why Today's Best Marketing Agencies are Also Consultants

Here's why today's best marketing agencies are also consultants.

Why Today's Best Marketing Agencies are Also Consultants

Posted Friday November 13th, 2015 by in Analysis + Strategy.

'Full-service agencies' come in all shapes and sizes, unfortunately for clients. A potential client could spend days and weeks sorting through what 'full-service' actually means, on an agency by agency basis. At GEM, we define it as creative to production; conception to design; public relations to broadcast; and digital development to digital marketing. But we're going to add one more the list: consulting.

Despite the fact that we count eight departments - Creative+Strategy, Public Relations, Media, Design, Digital, Social, Broadcast, Measurement - there is a 9th 'ghost' department that starts at the tip-top of the pyramid, and that's consulting. Here's why today's best marketing agencies are also consultants:

  1. The best marketing agencies must, by definition, be media-agnostic. Great agencies match the client's need to the best suite of services at the agency's disposal. A truly full-service agency doesn't have to sell every department, whereas a digital agency must by definition sell digital advertising. If a client's best bet is traditional media, where does that leave the client? By being a consultant, first, a great agency can assess the need from 30,000 feet and provide better guidance.
  2. Most brands must adjust internal communications before they market externally. Today's best brands market from the heart, with integrity and authenticity. False promises will fall on deaf ears, which is why we spend lots of time 'under the hood' with our clients, ensuring that their operations, customer service, and team members all align with the corporate values and - by extension - the marketing messages. Only a consultant's mindset can analyze the brand this deeply before blindly deploying marketing assets.
  3. Political agendas can often get in the way of great client work. Good agencies can produce great work for easy clients. The best agencies can produce great work for not-so-easy clients. Some clients need proof at every turn, data to assuage committees, and presentations to calm boards of directors. Often, this strategy must be developed in tandem with the actual marketing strategy, making consulting an ace-in-the-hole for ensuring that both sides of the equation will be executed flawlessly.
  4. Today's marketing is entirely interconnected, and brand communications must be as well. Today, everything falls under communications and marketing, including internal memos from the CEO, customer service practices, employee benefits, external advertising, social media, etc. Today's best public relations takes into account all of these elements, both inside and outside the brand. Reaching into the guts of a brand's operations and pulling out marketing-worthy elements is an extremely intimate process that typically falls into the realm of consulting.

With so much opportunity in today's integrated communications approach (remember transparency, integrity and authenticity?), today's best marketing agencies must extend far beyond the typical ad-manufacturing plant and become expert business, operations, communications and advertising consultants.

At GEM, we have often had to back up an original initiative to reach into the core of the issue and maximize the prospective outcome. Our advice: with lots more than 'just an ad campaign' on the line, look for an agency with consulting experience the next time you're in the market for a strategic partner.


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