Digital Marketing

Why Integrated Marketing is the Key to Agency Success

What is Integrated Marketing

Integrated Marketing is the industry term for a strategy in which all marketing channels – i.e. Google, Facebook, email, print, television, radio, etc – are coordinated to deliver a consistent message or experience.

When marketing channels are coordinated, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The trouble is that each marketing channel is complex in its own way, and few individuals are truly expert in more than one or two. Not many top-notch SEOs also claim to be PPC ninjas, and vice versa.

Beware the marketing jack-of-all-trades, because you can bet he is master of none.

The problem with agency specialization

Because coordinating multiple advertising channels is hard, many marketing firms believe they too can provide better service at a lower cost if they specialize. By focusing on their core strength – whether it be PPC, SEO, web design, social media marketing, etc – these firms only have to master one subject and define one set of deliverables.

But from the client’s perspective, that misses the whole point of hiring a marketing firm vs hiring an individual. If a company only specializes in PPC, why not cut out the middle man and hire the PPC specialist directly?

The reason for hiring a full-stack marketing firm is for the synergies that exist between channels.

integrated marketing

Even if you cobble together the best specialists in the world, a piecemeal approach will never match an integrated marketing strategy in which all the channels are working together.

That integration is key, and it is difficult to do well. In fact it is a specialty in itself, and when left to the client to handle the results are as predictable as when the client does their own PPC or SEO.

Why offer marketing integration as a service

If Integrated Marketing is the objective, then Marketing Integration is the function. 

Somebody has to do it. Whether that person is called the Marketing Manager, the Account Manager, or the Marketing Strategist, their role is effectively the Marketing Integration specialist.

By definition, adding a manager means adding another layer, and every layer has a cost. If you only look at direct costs, it will always be cheaper to hire a bunch of freelancers and manage them yourself.

But woe to the business owner who ignores indirect costs, such as opportunity cost and the cost of fixing the mistakes that arise when we cut corners. Even if they truly are able to manage their own marketing efforts competently, the principle of comparative advantage tells us that their time is better spent running their business than running their marketing.

David Ricardo FTW

As digital marketing professionals, part of our job is to communicate our value to people who know very little about what we do. We are used to talking about specialties like PPC and SEO. We need to start talking about Marketing Integration as a specialty.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that for any full-service marketing firm, Marketing Integration is the primary value proposition.

Consider that in most situations, bundled goods are sold at a discount. Yet when a business hires a full-service marketing agency, they pay a premium over an unbundled solution. Why?

The reason for that premium is that extra layer, that intermediate specialty of fitting the pieces together. A business that goes the piecemeal route to save money will find itself spending far more time and resources trying to coordinate those pieces than if they had hired a full-service agency to do that for them.

How to price marketing integration

Account managers and fulfillment specialists will always disagree about who adds more value. The reality is it depends. Some AMs are very hands-on and dictate not only strategy but tactics as well, whereas others provide high-level guidance and rely on talented specialists to execute.

How then to price something when there is so much variation? Most firms just look at the prevailing wage for an account manager, and that is the implicit cost for Marketing Integration.

That’s ok, but at Ethical Digital we use a market mechanism where account managers and fulfillment specialists essentially negotiate their split of the client fee with each other.

This allows price discovery rather than prescribe a one-size-fits-all price to a heterogeneous labor market. I think it’s the most elegant, optimal solution yet devised by a digital marketing company.

Of course, now I have to prove that. Stay tuned!

By Kevin Frei

Kevin Frei is an entrepreneur, paid media specialist, and intermittent nomad from Arizona. Ethical Digital is his third startup after and an online traffic school company. An avid traveler and economics hobbyist, Kevin's goal is to revolutionize the way service companies are organized so that more people can achieve the dream of professional (and locational) independence.

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