Digital marketing is exploding like a mint in a Coke bottle, and big corporations are jumping on the wagon. This goes hand-in-hand with the growing desire for an in-house marketing team. Why not? When digital marketing becomes an important aspect of your business, you’ll want to have complete control.

Major companies have been focusing on this for some time now. Nike, for example, decided in 2013 to take its entire social media efforts in-house, and Procter & Gamble is already doing 30% of their ‘media’ buying themselves.

Alright, nothing left to say then. Put every contract you have with an agency through the shredder! 

Agencies are dead!

Actually, the reality is not as clear-cut. Starting an in-house digital marketing team doesn’t happen with the flick of a switch. It’s a whole process. Depending on the digital maturity of your business, agencies play a different role.

Long live agencies! Huzzah!!!


Take me to digital wonderland


Wherever you go, there’s always a company at the start of its digital marketing adventure. If it wants to grow, then it’s best to dip the feet into the world of digital marketing. Fortunately, these companies don’t have to do this by themselves. Many specialized agencies guide them during their first steps in digital wonderland. 

The ‘hands-on agency‘ is the perfect partner for companies starting with digital marketing. As an ‘initiator’ they use proven marketing methods and immediately create digital for your business. In return for your fee, you get digital proof of concept without high upfront costs. Ideal for getting used to your new digital activities.


Leaving digital puberty


What about companies that have been using digital marketing for some time? But where digital is not yet a ‘core competency’? Do they still need an agency in the future? 

Of course, they do. The thing is, these companies do not yet see how digital marketing adds value. They do not yet see it as a driver of bottom-line results. It is merely a supplier of clicks, views, impressions, and other superficial KPIs. 

As if the gates of heaven opened, the ‘compound agency’ appears. They take on the role of ‘educator’ to help companies achieve a mindset where marketing is inseparable from all other business aspects. The compound agency helps you build your digital marketing into a ‘core competency’: a mindset that greatly impacts the success or failure of your business. 


What if you are digitally mature


What about companies that do view digital as a driver of success? Their digital marketing is running smoothly. Do these companies still need a marketing agency? You would think not. But what if profits suddenly stagnate or tunnel vision sets in so that you no longer see the bigger picture? 

These companies continue to rely on agencies. But be aware: they are less likely to choose operational agencies (compound & hands-on). That’s because they perfectly take on the operational side of digital themselves. Companies with a higher digital maturity instead work together with the ‘conceptual agency’. This agency takes on the role of ‘challenger’. They offer an extra pair of eyes that closely examines your online marketing strategy & related business processes (customer care, logistics, sales, etc.).

Different case, different agency


Want to know what that might look like in practice? Read on and check out some fictional cases where we zoom in on how each type of agency works with a client. 

Hands-on agency approach

The fictional company ‘Mr. Miyagi’ is a Bonsai tree retailer. Unlike their product, the company wants to grow. To do so, ‘Mr. Miyagi’ already has a basic webshop that is running reasonably well. How does the hands-on agency help the company grow further?

The hands-on agency immediately rolls up its sleeves. Their priority is to put Facebook & Google ads live on the current website as soon as possible. This way, they create traffic to the ‘Mr. Miyagi’ webshop. The goal is to strengthen the current digital approach as much and fast as possible.


Compound agency

‘Wonka’ is a huge candy store and has already taken its first steps in the digital landscape. On their website, you can order sweet delicacies from all over Belgium. They are already comfortable in using Google Ads and reaching their target audience.

The compound agency’s approach is the happy medium. They start by fine-tuning the online ads & campaigns. This way, they generate more visits to the webshop.

In this process, they look a little further in terms of campaign management than the hands-on agency. They take a strategic look at more complex issues such as attribution. In this way, they improve the campaigns with a strong digital chocolate sauce.


Conceptual agency

‘BuilderBob’ is a DIY store with locations in multiple European countries. Their webshop, Google Ads & Google Analytics are running at full speed. Despite strong marketing efforts, their growth stalled. They approach a conceptual agency.

The conceptual agency starts with extensive research. They do not only look at the marketing aspect. The agency also takes a close look at other business aspects: sales, customer care, finance, logistics, etc.

They turn these insights into an innovation journey for BuilderBob. Focusing on major business opportunities, they answer questions such as: What business aspects can be improved; What kind of people need to be hired for that; etc.



Where does the future of agency lie?


The growing trend to in-house digital marketing is present. You can’t look past that. Whether this poses a danger to agencies? That’s a false assumption.

Whether you are a start-up that still has to get used to digital or a major player with an in-house marketing team, there will always be companies that need an agency.  There is nothing wrong with an extra set of hands and eyes. Agencies help you grow as a company, so you get more out of your digital efforts. 


What’s your view on the future of agencies?

Let us know your opinion. Send a message to Matthias via linkedin.