Ad Agencies: Don’t Turn Your Back on Digital

This guest post is written by my friend Jay Baer (@jaybaer), a digital marketing consultant  devoted to helping agencies get better and more profitable at digital marketing. Jason has also provided digital consultation to hundreds of major companies including Nike, Fujitsu, Pulte Homes and RJ Reynolds.He is also author of the blog, Convince and Convert, Social media and email consulting, which is recognized as one of the best marketing blogs by AdAge, Alltop and Social Media Today.

photoAh yes. Digital marketing. Once a great champion. Now a broken-down has-been, struggling to remain relevant in a changing world. Like Joe Namath, but with a keyboard.

So goes the story in many agencies today.

In their zeal to jump aboard the social media express, agencies are neglecting to shore up the other corners of the digital marketing foundation – many of which deliver more concrete ROI (at least for now).

Further, while social media is the most transformative because of its impact on brand>><<consumer relationships, it’s certainly not the easiest (or most lucrative) professional service to offer clients.

Forrester’s recent projections of interactive marketing spend through 2014 show social media increasing at an average of 34% year over year. That’s pretty spectacular, sure. But, for all the Twitter this and Facebook that, remember that even five years from now banner advertising will be 5 times bigger than social media, and search marketing will be 10 times larger.

Forrester Digital Forecast

Should agencies develop social media competencies, and help their clients create sound, sustainable social media strategic plans?

Absolutely. But, social media does not work as a solo act. Because almost every other aspect of the company manifests itself in some way in social media, it’s imperative that social activities are integrated with other elements.

Thus, if you want to get serious about being an agency that can provide social media services, you better be able to offer meaningful email marketing, mobile marketing, search marketing, and online advertising counsel.

That’s why the notion of centralizing social media expertise in a personnel silo is a short-term gratification, but a long-term mistake (like most tattoos). If you accept the premise – as I do – that before long everything will have a social component, you can’t have only one or a few people in your agency holding those keys.

Everyone in your agency needs to understand social media, and while they’re at it, get comfortable with search, email, mobile, banners, and analytics, too.

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About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. Great post and absolutely true. That holistic (I know, that word’s getting obnoxious) integration of social media is so key for agencies, especially as fast as platforms are moving/growing. Thanks Jay & Michael.

  2. I posted this on Convince & Convert, too, but wanted to jump in anywhere there was conversation on this topic.

    Oh, et tu Jay? I just posted this morning about how yes, social media needs to infiltrate organizations at all levels, but having dedicated staff, for many companies, is essential in getting to there. Mostly as a response to @TDefren’s post last week decrying “social media departments.”

    Or maybe I’m misunderstanding you, because after all, you did write in the post you’ve linked to

    Not everyone will be an expert in every aspect of social media. It’s too broad, and the current moves too swiftly. But you can have a shared understanding of why you’re involved in social media and how you’re going to evaluate your success, and then break the execution into morsels that can be assigned to team members.

    Which I think isn’t too far from my point. But I haven’t had much coffee today. Yet.

    On the other hand, I totally agree about needing a more comprehensive view of digital marketing, that is inclusive of but not exclusively social media. Email, display, search–they all still have a major role to play. Social and search are almost inextricably linked.

    But leadership and dedicated internal teams do not a silo make. JMO

  3. Leonardo212 says:

    When was this post written? Are 2009 figures and projections relevant now?

  4. If you will notice Forrester’s projections were from 2009 through the year 2014. 

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