Kate Maddox’ recent article in BtoB Magazine – Fielding the Best Team – resonated loudly with me and I’m sure with a lot of other niche agencies out there:

“Marketers are involved in a variety of different relationships with agencies—on the one hand, having one traditional agency to handle major integrated campaigns or, on the other, working with specialized shops for social media, website design, strategy and analytics.”

Digital C4 is a niche agency, a specialized shop, providing an important, but complementary solution for inbound marketing. There are ‘mega’ agencies that have grown their service offering through acquisition and claim to be the all-inclusive, integrated, full-service, one-stop-shop to everything. Have you ever worked with one of these agencies for the soup-to-nuts solution to all your problems?

It’s not that these agencies aren’t smart; it’s just that it’s nearly impossible to coordinate a fully-integrated solution from under one agency roof. The best solutions that I’ve seen in play are when client-side marketers – Directors of Marketing – break out their marketing needs by solution set (and perhaps even by product if the company is large) and coordinate small nimble groups of niche agencies that play well together. They could even work with one agency that manages other nimble agencies on their behalf.

One of our clients has partnered with a local agency here in Portland to provide a complete inbound marketing solution. The agency manages the work of a couple of other agencies that combined provide an inbound marketing solution comprised of niche experts across the board. The client wins because they only have to manage one agency relationship for inbound. The agencies all win because they get to work with a great client, and connect with other niche agencies in the process. Does it work? Well, we’ve seen nothing but great results for our client. We get to focus on what we do best, as does each niche agency, and the client sees the results.

As Kate states in her article, “Working with many agency partners requires marketers to define what each is responsible for and coordinate their efforts, as well as bringing agencies on as true business partners.” This can be a tough task, which is why many companies choose one agency, but if you’re organized and patient the long term benefits of using niche agencies can be huge.

One final benefit of using multiple, niche agencies is that if you want to end a relationship with any of them, the transition is far less than replacing an all-inclusive agency that is handling all aspects of your marketing needs.

As an agency principal, the most important thing to me is that we’re seen as a true, strategic, partner. If that’s how our clients see us then we know it will be a success for both sides.