In this exclusive interview, we talk with Paul Roetzer, author of the bestselling The Marketing Agency Blueprint and founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based marketing agency. We talked with Paul about why today's service agencies should focus on outcomes over outputs, and how focus on delivering exceptional service creates deeper connections and sustainable relationships with clients.
Can you describe what is meant by a hybrid agency?
Paul Roetzer: Hybrid marketing agencies are tech savvy, offer integrated services, hire and retain versatile talent, and profit from diversified revenue streams. They thrive on change, and continually apply shifts and advances in technology to strengthen their businesses, evolve their services, and deliver greater value to clients.
In the Marketing Agency Blueprint, you mentioned that a marketing service agency's value is measured in outcomes, not outputs. Can you describe why focusing on outcomes and measurement is so important for today's agencies?
"Marketing executives are being held more accountable than ever before for meaningful metrics — website vists, leads, sales and revenue. Paul Roetzer:Marketing executives are being held more accountable than ever before for meaningful metrics—website visits, leads, sales and revenue. Therefore, agencies that are able to interpret campaign data and connect activities to business results are in high demand.
With a systemized process for tracking campaign outcomes, agencies can connect services to business goals, prove value and ROI (Know the difference between profit and margin.), better allocate budgets, and adapt strategy based on performance.
Can you offer some advice on how to create deeper connections and sustainable relationships with clients? How can this approach help a services firm be more competitive?
Paul Roetzer: For sustainable relationships, agencies must create and demonstrate their value on an ongoing basis. Become indispensible through hard work, insight, consultation, services, expertise, friendship and professionalism.
Deliver quality services, and measure and report bottom line impact to prove ROI. However, don’t stop there. Add in a personal touch by recognizing milestones, getting to know client interests, sharing kind words, keeping promises and performing goodwill gestures.
Those firms that both deliver results and make their client contacts feel valued hold a competitive advantage in the marketplace through increased client loyalty and lifetime value, and more referrals.
When does it make more sense for an agency to standardize services and apply set pricing, as opposed to other traditional, billable hours models?
Paul Roetzer: In the billable hours model, inefficiency is rewarded, and the agency is favored to the detriment of the client. For instance, the longer it takes someone to complete a project, the greater the agency profits. Set pricing, on the other hand, zeros in on value creation. Clients know exactly what they will receive for their money, which greatly simplifies service forecasting and budgeting. (Know the difference between billable and non-billable hours.)
For these reasons, we encourage set pricing for all services in which you can define the project scope. Aside from services that are variable based on ever-changing client needs and demand from third-party audiences, almost all other marketing projects can be standardized.
It’s then up to the agency to build the systems and processes, and put the right talent in place, to profitably deliver at the set price.
How can inbound marketing platforms, like HubSpot, lower the barrier of entry for firms looking for integrated SEO capabilities and other content initiatives?
Paul Roetzer: Inbound marketing and automation platforms, such as HubSpot, empower companies to grow more efficiently and intelligently, and to out-think and out execute, rather than outspend, the competition.
With an all-in-one platform, agencies can run truly integrated marketing programs that connect activities to outcomes, clearly showing the path to purchase for both themselves and their clients.
When technology closes the sales loop, firms are also able to more readily identify marketing and sales bottlenecks, get smarter and more personalized in their campaigns, and continually improve over time. All of which help them win new accounts, drive results and prove the agency’s value.
Along those lines, you could make the case that technology lowers the barrier to entry by making integrated service delivery and reporting easier and more cost effective than ever before.
Keep in mind, however, that firms still require the talent to utilize the tools correctly. We’ve found in many cases that the lack of hybrid, tech-savvy professionals with the skills to apply the technology and execute inbound strategy is the real challenge faced.