Birmingham, like many cities, has a number of agencies. They are often categorised by function, and can range from advertising agencies, design agencies, online agencies, and social media agencies to media agencies, PR agencies and marketing agencies. This diverse and ever-increasing number of agency types, can be very confusing for individuals and companies who do not work closely with the creative industry. The problem is exasperated through the blurring of boundaries of agency definition, and this is to say that many agencies say they do a great deal more then they actually do!
What do marketing agencies do?
Well, as the name may suggest, marketing agencies are focused at providing marketing advice and support to businesses. The range of services are often aligned with the need of the client, so for one client, they may try to offer strategic marketing advice and planning capability, and for another, it may be more tactical in terms of providing support for campaigns.
Providing strategic marketing support for Birmingham
Traditionally, marketing has been quite weak in strategic thinking. Many UK businesses do not prioritise marketing as a core business function, and although this is changing, much of the marketing industry has struggled to keep up. Providing strategic marketing advice implies a deep understanding of the long and medium term themes within both economy and consumer trends. These themes need to be combined to provide a framework from which operational planning and tactical campaigns can emerge. Few marketing companies provide this kind of insight and often, they only focus on the tactical campaign implementation process.
Focus of marketing companies
Many marketing agencies aim to provide support within the tactical planning cycle, identifying short-term campaigns and providing outsources capabilities. Many Birmingham marketing agencies simply provide a front end, project management capability between the business and the creative industry. Marketing agencies can be highly effective at integrating a number of specific creative functions into holistic campaign, providing follow up and support services in order to maximise the potential marketing opportunity for the business.
New thinking within Birmingham marketing agencies
A number of new themes are emerging such as the use of social media, increased sophistication of data capture, profiling and segmentation etc, and often, marketing agencies find it difficult to keep up with the technical opportunities that changing social and technical innovation provides. Marketing agencies often rely on their creative agencies to provide this insight and technical advice. However, it is the quality and range of this third party network that can often determine the shape of the tactical campaign.
Word of warning
It is important to remain focused and to understand what kind of marketing support you require. Look for marketing companies that can provide a value added service and make sure that they have proven capability in providing these services. If your marketing company is going to act as a conduit, make sure you have visibility of the third party transactions and communications, as it is vitally important in maximising the quality, integration and follow up of any campaign. This will ensure that you have a sound framework for analysis of your return on investment.