As a content marketing agency, Brandpoint has a staff that is filled with marketers who have either been with the company for years and years or have been in the industry for much of their adult life. Two marketers who have joined the agency this year are part of that second classification.
Justine Ryba and Rachel Gray are both relatively new to Brandpoint, but definitely not to the marketing and PR world. These women have watched as the marketing world has evolved over the last 20 years and know how these changes have affected agency/client relations. (For the better!)
Read ahead to learn more about their points of view on agency services and how they believe agencies can best serve their clients now and in the future.
Marketing & PR agencies 20 years ago …
Justine: I started in TV, radio and outdoor media buying — working with two agencies. Fast-forward five years, I was in a different corporate gig and working with multiple agencies to support our retail channel — including a creative agency, direct mail agency and a call-tracking agency.
Back in the day, companies seemed to work with one agency partner to do one project and a different agency partner to do another. Looking back, it seems like we could have saved time and money if our agencies would have been integrated or offered more than the one service.
Rachel: Almost 20 years ago, I worked at a PR agency at the beginning of my career: writing press releases, making 80 media calls a day, scheduling interviews and mailing out beta tapes with b-roll for TV newscasts. All day, every day. Creative agencies were their own thing. Traditional media buying agencies were their own thing. Website development was its own thing. And gaining traction was all about word-of-mouth, industry events and of course, awards, accolades and other notoriety (did YOU do that [insert car, beverage, anything with a celebrity] ad?). Agencies rarely played together.
[Read More: Content Marketing Agencies vs. In-House Teams]
Social media changed it all
Rachel: The rise of social media, and technology in general, changed everything. Companies were scrambling to understand it all and evolve with it. What did that mean for their business and services? What about their audiences and their purchasing behaviors? What other channels were now available for them to connect with that audience? They relied on their agencies to help them get ahead, or at the very least, stay on pace.
From my experience, traditional PR agencies had to adapt quickly to the rise of social media, influencers and beyond. And now “paid media” was blurred with PR tactics and agencies felt that pressure to expand their offerings to support these shifts. Creating social posts now involved a creative element. Partnering with influencers now had a paid element. And reporting became more and more important.
[Read More: The Content Marketing Operating System]
Different agencies had to talk to each other for executional purposes, and companies started to see more value in a one-stop shop. Becoming an integrated agency was necessary to get that coveted AOR title.
Evolution as a means to stay in business
Justine: Yes, businesses have evolved over the years. It’s the staple to staying alive — agencies and businesses must evolve and innovate.
Think of this past year and a half (as much as we want to forget it). Pre-pandemic, many companies secured convention centers and hotels for large events. Who would have ever thought those events would turn into digital Zoom meetings with 500+ attendees? Companies and agency partners had to become creative and find new solutions and ways to host meetings and events to keep businesses alive and thriving.
When businesses literally shut down, companies had to find new ways to sell their services and products. Enter online consumption — virtual healthcare visits, online ordering, church streaming, etc.
Being innovative means:
- Being bold
- Staying fresh and relevant in the marketplace; creator of new ideas; trendsetter
- Exploring new technologies and tools to stand out from the competition
- Hiring exceptional talent to bring forward inspirational and creative ideas
- Finding value and growth for clients
One-stop shop vs. specialized agencies
Rachel: Marketing and sales have never been so closely tied. And it is even more important for the two to talk to each other. Now primarily digital, marketing creates touchpoints along the buyer’s journey that lead to sales actions. And that marketing has become more personalized and more data-driven, requiring more sophisticated tools and analytics. For companies to even compete in their industry, they need that technical and specialized support from their agencies. Once again, agencies have needed to adapt. They cannot just be good across all marketing channels, they need to be the experts (disrupters, leaders, thinkers) within their core disciplines, helping to drive client results.
Justine: I have worked with a variety of agencies — web development, global meetings and events, content and design, video production, media buying and lead generation. Most of the agencies I’ve worked with have their niche services, however, I have also been part of multiple agency partnerships coming together to fulfill the end goal of the client. From a client perspective, I don’t think it’s necessary to have an agency partner that is a one-stop shop for all things marketing. Clients want an agency partner they can trust and deliver above and beyond work. If you can do this, you’re golden. If you can do more than one niche and your team can rock it — you’re a superstar agency and should be hired immediately.
“Agencies are circling back to specialization, but a new specialization. Agencies need to do what they say they do and do it really well.”
At the end of the day …
Rachel: Agencies are circling back to specialization, but a new kind of specialization that isn’t as segmented as it was in the past. Even if you are focused, you still need to take an omnichannel approach. SEO isn’t just a website anymore and creative isn’t just an ad anymore. Agencies need to do what they say they do, and do it really well. In the end, companies need to be able to trust their agency partners and help solve for “what’s hard” to find solutions that yield results.
[Read More: 7 Reasons Why Brandpoint is the Agency’s Choice]
Justine: Honestly, at the end of the day clients are looking for a great partnership — an agency that “gets it,” listens and understands the client’s business, audience, vision and priorities. Clients want a partner they can trust — exceptional account management, ongoing communications, delivery on time, innovative ideas and presenting the creative challenge spot on. If you can achieve this, the opportunities and partnership will evolve and grow.
Brandpoint is content
Like Rachel said, agencies need to do what they say and do it well. At Brandpoint, that’s content. We know that the lines between marketing and paid media and web development have blurred over the years, but we also know how genuine and strategic content can help every facet of your online presence. And we know how to create this content in a customer-focused way, making sure that your current and prospective clients will be satisfied with their experience with your company every step of the way.
Reach out today to see how our staff’s marketing experience can bring decades of knowledge to your marketing efforts and grow your business — the right way.