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Why we care about marketing agencies

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Why we care about marketing agencies

Nobody can do it all. No matter how good your marketing team is, there is going to be expertise and experience they don’t have. Fortunately, there is a marketing agency somewhere that does. They are an essential part of the martech ecosystem, filling gaps and providing insight faster and (hopefully) less expensively than you could do yourself.

If your company engages in advertising campaigns, chances are you have already considered using the services of an agency. Whether businesses should bring in external expertise or rely on internal talent is an age-old conundrum and a tough decision to make. It requires careful consideration of industry trends and a detailed understanding of your marketing objectives and capabilities. 

With user preferences changing rapidly, you need to constantly rethink your advertising strategy to stay relevant in the advertising scene. In light of this, it may be wise to bring in an external agency with expertise in the changing advertising landscape and the best practices within it.

This article will discuss:

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Important factors when considering external help 

The decision to bring in external help is context-specific. You can choose to outsource a specific campaign or your entire marketing vertical, depending on the requirements of your business. 

Consider the following factors while making this decision:

The complexity of your campaign

If you plan to use a single-channel approach with a relatively straightforward campaign, you can use in-house talent. However, the nature of advertising has changed; most campaigns now use multiple platforms. In fact, using a multi-channel approach enables you to reach the most potential customers. 

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Selecting multiple platforms and coordinating their use requires considerable time and energy. Additionally, it also requires cross-channel expertise. Agencies can guide which channels are the most effective and in what combinations. They also centrally manage your campaign, making it easier to track the impact of various platforms. 

The skills of your internal talent

The advertising landscape is subject to constant changes. Constantly upskilling and retraining your employees to match industry requirements can be a fairly expensive affair. In addition, hiring full-time employees each time a specific marketing need arises can blow up your marketing budget. 

You should also consider what technical tools your team can access and use effectively. Is your internal marketing team able to successfully track customer data and campaign performance? Certain third-party agencies specialize in leveraging data to generate high-impact campaigns. 

Cost-benefit analysis

While hiring external agencies can be more expensive than producing an in-house campaign, you should also consider the marginal benefit agencies provide. Advertising agencies aim to keep their teams updated with current market trends. Hence, the quality of the content they produce can be remarkably better than the output of your internal team. 

Is the additional cost imposed by external agencies offset by the additional benefit they provide? That is the primary question to consider from both a quantitative and qualitative lens. You can also consider your past experiences while making this cost-benefit analysis.


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How to find the right agency

Finding the right agency can be a time-consuming process, especially if you’re taking external help for the first time. All advertising agencies are not the same; different firms specialize in different aspects of advertising. You should consider your marketing objectives, requirements, and budget to identify the right agency for your business. 

The following process can help you shortlist the right agency:

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Do diligent research

The fundamental purpose of conducting detailed research is to ensure that an agency’s expertise aligns with your advertising objectives. First, determine your budget. This will help you eliminate agencies that fall out of that budget and focus on a smaller pool. Additionally, you can also tap into your network or analyze your competition to determine which agencies are the most popular in your industry. 

Next, outline your requirements in detail. Do you need help with the creative or technical aspects of advertising? Or do you prefer getting support for both? Certain agencies specialize in leveraging data and using sophisticated artificial intelligence tools to optimize the reach of your campaign. Others specialize in producing creative and engaging content. It is crucial to understand which agency is likely to help you meet your objectives.

Listen to pitches

Invite shortlisted candidates to present their pitches. Typically, this process involves agencies understanding your budget and requirements in detail and proposing their plan of action for your campaign and business. As part of this process, agencies might take a close look at your past and current campaigns on platforms such as Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. 

The pitch will give you a concrete idea of what to expect from the agency and will allow you to judge whether their expertise can support the marketing needs of your business. You can finally hire the right agency depending on which pitch aligns best with your objectives. 

Finding the right agency has numerous benefits for your business:

  • Save time and energy. By relying on external experts to produce high-impact campaigns, you can focus on the core functions of your business. Streamlining your core functions can considerably improve your sales revenue and reduce costs. Further, the cost of hiring and training new employees can be higher than working with an agency. 
  • Leverage the latest technologies. Advertising agencies stay up-to-date on shifting market trends. From tracking data to employing AI tools, agencies can supplement the work of your in-house team to produce high-impact campaigns. This can give you a competitive edge and help engage your audience effectively.  
  • Get an external perspective. An outside opinion can be valuable, especially from an expert. Being closely attached to your product, brand, and customers might narrow your perspective and be an impediment to producing an impartial and effective campaign. Expert advice and multiple perspectives from professionals can improve the creativity of your marketing efforts. 

Read next: How are digital agencies helping marketers transform in 2022?

The advertising industry is witnessing considerable startup activity aiming to compete with traditional agencies. These startups are leveraging cutting-edge technology, such as AI, to help circumvent the problems arising from privacy law restrictions and increased competition. 

There exists an agency to cater to every niche of advertising and marketing. If you have clear objectives and a fair assessment of the limits of your in-house talents’ capabilities, you can consider using an external agency to supplement your marketing efforts. Agencies can help you produce state-of-the-art, effective, and technology-backed campaigns that can provide the highest return on your investment. While identifying the best agency for your needs is a time-consuming process, the right agency partner can supercharge your marketing efforts.

Resources for learning more about agency services


About The Author

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Akshat Biyani is a Contributing Editor to MarTech, a former analyst who has a strong interest in writing about technology and its effect on marketing.

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MARKETING

Build-A-Bear using data to make itself into an all-ages brand

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Build-A-Bear using data to make itself into an all-ages brand

Build-A-Bear is remaking itself for the 25th anniversary of its founding this year. This means using its experience and its data to appeal to older customers and create stronger online connections.

“The goal that was stated for us was to diversify our brand, evolve our retail portfolio and build stronger relationships with our consumers,” said Ed Poppe, Build-A-Bear’s vice president, loyalty and performance marketing for Build-A-Bear, in a presentation at The MarTech Conference.

That’s why they launched HeartBox, an e-commerce play which the company says will let it move into “the adult-to-adult gift-giving and gift box market which has been meaningfully expanding over the past few years.” This goes along with its new Bear Cave line of “adult” bears (in this case adult means they have alcohol in hand). The brand has also expanded through partnerships with film, entertainment and streaming TV properties like Harry Potter, Pokémon, The Matrix and the Marvel series WandaVision.

These efforts are designed to give more options to customers who buy online, and increase options for engagement. This has required integrating new teams and new sources of data.

Connecting customer data and teams

“Over half of businesses now say that they expect the majority of their revenue to come from digital channels,” said Loretta Shen, senior director, product marketing, marketing cloud intelligence for Salesforce. “To meet changing consumer behavior, marketers are adopting digital channels like video, social media and digital ads across search and paid media. But it’s not just adopting these channels, but how you use them, and in particular how you use them in tandem.”

Build-A-Bear adapted to customers’ increased digital use by adding new digital experiences while also reorganizing customer data to better understand what customers want.

“We have to understand our guests at Build-A-Bear,” said Bryce Ahrens, Build-A-Bear’s senior analyst, CRM, loyalty and performance marketing. “How do they engage with our email, our websites, our advertising and, of course, how do they engage and experience our in-store environment?”

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They keep a large CRM database made up of loyalty program members, website customers, retail customers and sales prospects. Additionally, through access to the CRM, the organization is pulling together different teams: web development, analytics, marketing and also data privacy people.

These teams have to remain connected because data is coming through different systems. Build-A-Bear has a first-party data warehouse, a commerce cloud storefront, an order management system, marketing cloud, an email platform and different analytics solutions, not to mention ad platforms for campaigns.

“We need to be able to bring this information together, prioritize what we look at, and identify strategies to move quickly,” said Ahrens.

Read next: What you need to know to grow your e-commerce business

Count Your Candles

Data and digital experience come together in an ongoing Build-A-Bear effort called “Count Your Candles.”

The promotion is a special offer for customers to order a discounted bear (regularly priced at $14) that costs a dollar amount that matches their age.

The dedicated webpage for this promotion also allows customers and gift-givers to buy gift cards and become loyalty members. Additionally, there are a number of other ways that customers can celebrate birthdays, including in-store birthday parties and special birthday gift boxes that can be ordered and delivered.

These strategies came from marketers looking at the data and seeing what sparked their customers’ interests. In this case, it was birthdays.

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“We’re lucky to have a team up here who wants to jump in and help drive our business forward,” said Poppe. “But it also brings us back to where it’s important to aggregate data, identify patterns, see your opportunities, and pick your path forward.”


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Optimizing digital experiences with marketing and commerce insights from Third Door Media on Vimeo.

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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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