In size-matters model, even competitors can find common ground
Bigger doesn?t always mean better, and that?s especially true in marketing.
But smaller marketing firms still need to compete with bigger agencies (and their vast resources), so to supplement their services and create more holistic marketing campaigns, some Long Island ad houses are outsourcing their specialized digital work to other agencies ? including competitors.
Smaller firms with fewer than five employees have realized the benefits ? for themselves and their clients ? of partnering with other agencies, which can yield not only cost-effective results but future partnerships. Strategic Marketing Works staffs two full-time employees and operates out of a small space in CEO and founder Steven Wilson?s West Babylon home. Wilson, after crossing paths with the heads of two other minimally staffed marketing firms, realized there was infinite potential in creating a three-way company partnership, which could be especially beneficial to his own social media and SEO efforts.
Joining Wilson?s firm in the threeheaded Omnes Pro Uno union (a Latin nod to the ?Three Musketeers? ?all for one? rallying cry) are Oceanside-based TechACS and Dix Hills-based Social Ribbit. According to Wilson, the alliance underscores the strengths of each agency while reducing marketing redundancies, thereby providing clients with a ?big agency feel at a fraction of the price.?
?Collectively, we provide companies a way to navigate through the many new and changing digital marketing options,? he said. ?We?re all solo entrepreneurs, but we realized that today?s marketing is so integrated, you really have to have a team approach that helps them to streamline their campaign.?
Wilson and his cohorts ? Craig Yaris of Social Ribbit and Juan Vides of TechACS ? are not the only Long Island marketers interested in teaming up. John Harrison, co-founder of The Brand Compound, is a big-turned-small agency convert; six years ago, he gave up the 40-employee firm he was supervising to co-manage the two-partner firm he now runs out of Woodmere.
According to Harrison, The Brand Compound works with outside professionals ?virtually 100 percent of the time.?
Client benefits aside, the collaborative approach is especially beneficial as a cost-cutter. Rather than hiring inhouse graphic designers or web-development professionals, for instance, marketing heads can pay outside professionals a set rate on a per diem basis. After running that 40-employee firm ? with a $3-million payroll, $380,000 in annual rent and another $100,000 in health insurance costs ? Harrison now operates on a completely different model.
Hiring outside graphic and digital designers at a fraction of the cost sets the stage for future marketing relationships, he noted, while yielding significant savings for ad agencies that would otherwise need to increase their own in-house resources to tackle digital projects.
?It?s considerably cheaper,? Harrison said. ?I don?t have to pay for additional rent, insurance or any other overhead expenses, on top of a salary I don?t have. It?s a great model because as a result, I can offer clients our work for a lot less money.?
Even larger firms realize they can?t do it all on their own. Melville-based Progressive Marketing Group looks to strategic partnerships, including arrangements with Farmingdale-based Sandwire Corp. and Floral Park-based Corbett Public Relations, to handle PR and certain technical-development efforts.
?I think agencies have started to recognize where their strengths are and that you have to be true to your core,? said Progressive Marketing Group Vice President Gary Cucchi. ?As a strategic marketing organization, we?re not in the web-hosting business, and we don?t pretend to be something that we?re not.?
Jennifer Schmitt, media director of SMM Advertising in Smithtown, said the agency uses outside specialists for 10 to 20 percent of client projects, mainly external digital consultants hired to enhance social media programs and give clients the highest click-through rate with the lowest per-click costs.
It?s a simple matter of rethinking ad agency strategies, Schmitt noted, as the digital world evolves.
?That includes considering expanding in-house services, depending on clients? needs,? she said. ?But for certain projects, we find it better to partner with an established company that knows what they?re doing and where that?s all they do, and paying them on an as-needed basis dependent on the client?s budget.?