Integration is in: how marketing communications contributes to strategic business goals

During times of economic uncertainty, marketing leaders are under significant pressure. Often the first department to have budget and resource cuts, and yet still face mounting persistence from sales to deliver increasing lead volumes; marketers are used to doing more with less. 

Agency structure and selection is a tumultuous task within this landscape, and the decision to opt for a series of specialist individual firms versus a larger integrated agency poses a difficult question when trying to demonstrate return on investment. Here’s why we believe an integrated agency is greater than the sum of its parts. 

Goal focused, not channel-focused 

The B2B buyer journey is undoubtedly complex. A prospective buyer will interact with your brand across multiple touchpoints and channels. Nurturing your target audience takes time, and can’t be achieved via a single channel. 

Naturally, specialist agencies will focus on how they can solve your challenges through the lens of their own specialism. Got a brand awareness problem? Broad match, topic based keyword PPC is the answer to all of your woes, says specialist PPC agency. 

An integrated agency is instead channel-agnostic, allowing them to take a more holistic approach. Rather than being tied to one channel, a marcomms agency can review your objectives and devise a strategy that utilises whatever channels and activity will meet your goals and align with your budget and timelines.

Ease of management 

Fostering a productive, collaborative working relationship with any agency partner requires investment on both sides. To review activity, agencies will require regular status calls, and quarterly business reviews for idea brainstorms and planning. Conducting this process across multiple individual agencies – creative, PR, digital, brand etc. – takes a considerable amount of time. Plus, each agency partner should be kept up to date with activity from other agency partners to look for opportunities to collaborate or align activity, all of which you’ll need to coordinate and oversee. 

When marketing leaders are under pressure from so many other areas of the business, managing several agencies is an additional drain on your time. An integrated agency, with expertise across all marketing communications, halves the time investment. One team, one conversation, one planning session, a multitude of results.  

Proactivity and new idea generation 

With more knowledge, comes more ideas. As agency partners become more deeply integrated into your business and understand its challenges and aspirations, they are better equipped to serve you with new ideas that put you a step ahead of the competition. 

Allowing an agency to truly partner with you, rather than being pigeon holed into one discipline, empowers far more holistic thinking. This generates better ideas and outcomes as opposed to specific ideas focused on individual channel tactics fighting against the other. 

Impact on the bottom line 

Many decisions no matter how hard we try often come down to cost. In the short term, the cost efficiency of working with an integrated marketing communications agency is obvious. Clients benefit from a single account team overseeing all activity, rather than shouldering the cost of individual account management per agency. With each new planning session or company update meeting, you’re paying for the time of one account team who have deep knowledge of your business, not three or four. 

The long term efficiencies are less immediate. Integrated marketing activity reaps significant cost savings, as single campaign ideas are designed from the outset to work seamlessly across several channels, allowing assets to be tweaked or repurposed and reused. This also drives effectiveness – ensuring a consistent message across all touchpoints, no matter where your prospects are engaging with you. 

Ready to scale when you are

Barriers to enlisting agency support often centre around the fear of making the wrong choice during the selection process and wasting money, or the time it takes to get the new team adequately up to speed. Even committing to a long-term agreement when your ongoing requirement is unclear creates more hassle than necessary. 

The beauty of an integrated agency is that they are structured to enable access to an array of both marketing generalists and channel specific specialists, depending on your requirement. One quarter could focus on building the CEO’s profile through PR ahead of a fundraise, or driving marketing qualified leads via PPC to help build the sales pipeline ahead of closing out the financial year. Once you find an agency who can deliver, resource can be pulled in (or out) as needed in line with your marketing plans and business aspirations. 

An integrated marketing agency offers several benefits versus multiple agencies with individual specialisms. The upsides of cost and ease of management are immediate, but the latter benefit of far more strategic, creative ideas that centre around your broader business goals reap rewards later on. 

Written by Zoe Gardiner


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