Digital agencies that specialize in one or two services often fall into a kind of tunnel-vision, becoming too fixated on their services that they forget what their clients fundamentally need from them: To establish an online presence for their brand that can realize their marketing and business objectives. And their clients are slowly realizing that this need can’t be met by just one or two services.
In a recent survey conducted by Econsultancy commissioned by Adobe, client-side marketers were asked “Which touchpoints [their] organization treat[s] as a central part of the customer experience (CX)”. Among those cited were Digital Channels such as Website, Email, Digital Advertising and Social Media.
Clearly, many of your clients consider each Digital Channel–and the various services associated with them–as a key focus in the next few years. But more significantly, most of these clients see all of them together as central to their brand experience. The more recent study by Econsultancy affirms this. 70% of respondents consider “Optimizing the customer journey across multiple touchpoints” very important for their digital marketing in the next few years. More and more of your clients want an agency that can offer multiple services, and can cover most if not all of these digital channels.
In other words, rather than individual services, your clients require solutions—holistic and comprehensive strategies tailored to their specific business challenges. This means that for agencies to stay competitive, they must begin redefining themselves from Service-Providers to Solution-Providers, if they haven’t done so already.
Whereas Service-Providers focus on their clients’ apparent needs (a website, SEO, PPC, etc.) to sell to them, Solutions-Providers understand the deeper need to be addressed, even when—especially when—the clients themselves do not. Solutions-providers then craft a strategy for their client comprised of different services working in concert to solve the problem.
Transitioning from a Service-Provider to a Solution-Provider isn’t easy. It requires that an agency become more customer-centric to identify an appropriate strategy, and have multiple services on offer that can make up the proposed solution.
But it’s well worth it, because Multiple Service agencies have a clear advantage in the playing field. In the same way a solution is more than the sum of its parts, a solutions-provider presents several value propositions to their clients that their more specialized peers don’t.
The first advantage that Multiple Service agencies have is the promise of convenience to their clients. Rather than having to find, advise, and coordinate with several agencies for various Digital Marketing Services and Channels, clients can save time and energy by hiring a Multiple Service agency instead. This is an especially strong selling point to Small Businesses, who typically have fewer staff and find time and energy in short supply.
For the same reason, the promise of a coherent brand experience is another selling point Multiple Service agencies have over Specialized agencies. In the same study by Econsultancy, 66% of respondents cited “Ensuring consistency of message across channels” as very important for their digital marketing, second only to “Optimizing the customer journey across multiple touchpoints”.
Not only does hiring several agencies present a logistical headache for clients, the variety of ideas and perspectives also makes it difficult to ensure consistent branding across all the digital marketing channels. Because Multiple Service agencies see the bigger picture, they can align all online marketing efforts under one vision, and as a result are more effective.
More Sales Opportunities
Selling solutions requires a more consultative selling process than product or service oriented ones. Consequently, Multiple Service agencies have more sales tactics available to them when pitching their solutions to clients, and are able to capitalize on their existing client base.
This happens early on in the sales process. Typically, a client will want to hire an agency for something specific, and Service-provider oriented agencies simply give them what they can offer.
Multiple Service agencies, on the other hand, are already in a prime position to offer related services that clients may not know are able to address their need. A client that wants a website to promote their local business may ask for a website, but they may not be aware of the services that can drive traffic to it like an SEO and PPC campaign that focuses on local search, or Social Media advertising that can drive traffic to their website and their store.
Having multiple services also gives agencies the option to bundle them together to create a package that appeals to specific market segments, giving them the edge to win clients from their competitors. If on the other hand a prospect already has an existing solution for a service you’re pitching, you can quickly shift to selling a service that enhances it.
This is also an incentive for specialized agencies to expand to other services. By selling related services to clients, e.g. Web Maintenance to go with Web Design services, agencies can extract more value from their existing client base. And even when clients don’t hire you or only take you up on a few services, as a Multiple Service agency you’re planting the seeds for future business. They’ll remember that you also offer other services, and may take you up on them in the future.
From a business standpoint, having multiple services also offers agencies a strategic advantage: they have access to multiple revenue streams, each with their own distinct advantages and means of capturing value. Whereas an agency focused on Web Design services would have to dedicate more time and effort looking for new clients and creating websites for their clients to stay afloat, Multiple Service agencies have a more stable and predictable income because they have services they can rely on for revenue.
This is not to say that Multiple Service agencies typically shy away from Web Design. On the contrary, they’re more able to make use of it then their Service-Provider counterparts. Web Design can be used as a foot-in-the-door for other services that can generate monthly recurring revenue, such as Web Maintenance services or SEO, and can also earn new revenue from these and other existing clients with PPC or Social Media Advertising Services.
Multiple Service agencies that are entrusted with more than one facet of their client’s online presence have the advantage of seeing more of the customer journey and can propose additional solutions based on the insights they glean. An agency tasked with managing a client’s social media presence, for instance, would be able to see the immediate feedback on a campaign they’ve run. This ability to advise clients on opportunities and suggest possible courses of action is an indicator of a fundamentally different client-agency relationship.
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From attracting more clients, having more sales approaches, to having more sources of revenue, the benefits of being a Multiple Services agency are too big to ignore. But there’s a final important benefit that sets Multiple Service agencies apart from their peers–they’re more able to build their own brands.
Agencies who continue to focus on the value of their services risk being perceived as mere vendors. The 2016 RSW/US New Year Outlook Report on Advertising and Marketing shows agencies are increasingly anxious about this “troubling Trend,” and suggests a way forward for agencies:
“Despite pressures that stress Marketer/Agency relationships, Marketers have great need for a committed strategic partner in their Agency. Agencies that are anxious about their talents and services becoming ‘commoditized’ […] can avoid that perception by approaching their clients’ business as a strategic partner rather than with a vendor mentality.” – 2016 RSW/US New Year Outlook Survey
Sell your clients a service, and they learn to value the service. Sell them a solution, and they learn to value your brand. Not only do Multiple Service agencies find it easier to gain new clients, they’re also better at keeping the ones they already have. By diversifying the services your agency offers, clients both present and prospective will regard you as a valuable partner for years to come.
We’ve developed various turnkey services to provide to our partners, so that they can focus on crafting solutions for their clients. Schedule a walkthrough, or call our toll-free number at at 1-800-250-6106 to learn more about the SEOReseller white label platform.