CAMPAIGN DIRECT: VIEWPOINT - Traditional shops will survive by welcoming integrated challenges

By MICHAEL BIRKIN, president of Diversifie, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 05 December 1997 12:00AM

The last year has seen an unprecedented rush by agency and marketing services groups to broaden their range of services. Some of the activities are well thought through, others less so. As a provider of marketing services, the fundamental driving force behind extending your offering should always be the needs of current and potential clients. But the genuine needs of clients will only be met if the provider is capable of extending the quality of its core offering to the new services.

The last year has seen an unprecedented rush by agency and

marketing services groups to broaden their range of services. Some of

the activities are well thought through, others less so. As a provider

of marketing services, the fundamental driving force behind extending

your offering should always be the needs of current and potential

clients. But the genuine needs of clients will only be met if the

provider is capable of extending the quality of its core offering to the

new services.



The 80s theory of ’one-stop shopping’ is a concept which was an

acknowledged failure for agencies (and, indeed, for other industries

such as banking and insurance). Is integration in the late 90s going to

be more successful?



A qualified yes. The accepted view is that one-stop shopping failed

because clients didn’t want it. They might have gone for it, however, if

agencies had better delivered their promises and honoured the non-core

agency services.



There is no doubt that many clients (particularly multinationals) are

now structured in a way that makes an integrated through-the-line

proposal very attractive. The transformation in communications and the

internationalisation of media make the marketplace quite different from

the 80s. The agencies that will win real marketshare in the next three

years will be those that genuinely see the changes as opportunities to

move forward rather than as a threat to their client base.



For example, an agency that can see much of a client’s spend moving from

traditional campaigns to direct response is likely to fail if its

solution is simply to acquire a direct marketing agency. Buying a direct

agency requires an understanding of the dynamics of a different approach

to communications.


A traditional agency can probably be relied upon to assess the creative

credentials and cultural fit of the direct agency, but would it know

about the database requirements of its clients? The successful agency

groups will be those who invest in this knowledge and accept that the

management skills required to deliver integrated communications are not

necessarily ones they are used to.



However, the opportunities available to those who succeed are huge. As

well as integration globalisation of below-the-line activities is now a

reality. This enables international agencies to develop their strategic

skills and, perhaps for the first time, to allow for a more objective

approach to the consultative process with clients when marketing

campaigns are fashioned.



One thing is certain. There will still be a place for specialised

above-and below-the-line disciplines focusing on their core business.

Clients are attracted to a more integrated and international approach,

but it still has to provide better solutions than a purely local fix to

succeed in the long term.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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