What is an Agency Sprawl?

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April 7th, 2023

When You Outsource Marketing, You Create Agency Sprawl

Rob Seas Content Strategist/Copywriter

While it can be tempting for mid-sized and larger businesses to outsource their marketing to multiple agencies, the sum of the parts is always less than the whole with this approach. Keeping your marketing efforts largely under one roof isn’t just more cost-effective, it’s more effective period.

Many businesses end up in this predicament by outsourcing parts of their overall marketing efforts to specialists. The thinking is that if one discipline is all the specialist handles, they must be the experts (and we want the best). This ignores the synergies that arise from having a single, or lead, agency manage the many disparate marketing efforts required to maintain and grow a brand and business.

As the marketing challenges change and multiply with your business growth, the specialists stack up. In the end, you’ll spend more time herding the specialist marketing cats than growing your business. Each will operate in a silo and require separate direction and guidance. The left and right hands will be uncoordinated.

Contrast this with full-service agencies, which assemble a wide range of expertise and experience under one roof. This creates synergy and coordination. The resulting creative output always represents a sum greater than the parts.

Full-service agencies retain the big picture throughout the life of your business. You may only need on-page SEO services today, but the account manager inside a full-service agency knows that SEO improvements rely on longer-term strategies such as off-page social media, site coding and content that is thorough, accurate, up-to-date and easy to read.

In short, you will have an air traffic controller overseeing all of your marketing efforts with an eye toward opportunities, challenges and efficiencies. They will know the history of your business and past marketing efforts. Armed with this historical knowledge, they can recommend adjustments and improvements in strategy, execution and follow-up for every business venture whether it’s an ad campaign, a social media blitz, a product launch, or a new acquisition.

Full service agencyWhat Does Agency Sprawl Look Like?

Agency sprawl is a common phenomenon that occurs when businesses outsource their marketing efforts to multiple agencies or vendors. It refers to the resulting sprawl of various marketing initiatives, strategies and tactics that may end up being uncoordinated, inconsistent and potentially wasteful.

One of the main causes of agency sprawl is the increasing complexity and diversity of marketing channels and tools. Today’s marketing landscape is much more fragmented and specialized than ever before, with numerous channels such as social media, email, content marketing, SEO, PPC, influencer marketing and more. Each of these channels require different skills, expertise and resources, and small agencies often can’t offer everything needed for a comprehensive marketing campaign. As a result, businesses often engage multiple agencies or vendors to cover all their marketing needs, leading to a sprawl of overlapping and often conflicting efforts.

This inevitably results in a lack of clear and consistent communication and coordination among agencies or vendors. When businesses work with multiple agencies or vendors, it creates a lack of transparency, accountability and integration among them, leading to silos and redundancies. For example, one agency may be responsible for social media, another for email marketing and another for PPC advertising, but they may not share data, insights, or strategies with each other. This can result in inefficiencies, missed opportunities and a lack of synergy among marketing efforts.

The consequences of agency sprawl can be significant and costly for businesses. One of the most common consequences is a lack of focus and coherence in marketing messaging and branding. When multiple agencies or vendors are involved in marketing, they may have different interpretations of the brand’s values, personality and target audience, leading to inconsistencies in messaging and branding. This can confuse customers and weaken the brand’s identity and reputation.

Another consequence of agency sprawl is a lack of efficiency and effectiveness in marketing spending. When businesses engage multiple agencies or vendors, they may end up duplicating efforts, wasting resources and diluting the impact of their marketing initiatives. If one vendor is running a PPC campaign while another is doing SEO, they can produce competing and overlapping keywords and ads. The result is increased cost per acquisition and reduced ROI on the spend.

Agency sprawl can also lead to a lack of agility and responsiveness in marketing. When businesses work with multiple agencies or vendors, they often encounter delays, miscommunication and errors that can slow down their marketing initiatives and make them less responsive to market changes and customer feedback. This can lead to lost opportunities and a diminished competitive advantage.

Basically, you’re paying more for less. When you hire multiple marketing firms to handle the various needs of your business, it inevitably leads to greater costs and diminished returns, which doesn’t make sense for any business.

full service marketing The Full-Service Marketing Difference

Hiring half a dozen specialists can cost far more than hiring a full-service agency. You’ll spend more upfront on the agency but save time and money in the long run. After you’ve worked through high-level business goals and strategy, the agency team will take over to execute that strategy and measure the results. Most of the work will occur without the need for hands-on direction, leaving you more time and energy to focus on managing other critical areas of your business.

Often, you will have only one or two points of contact with the agency in the form of the account director and project manager. They keep projects on track, managing the timelines and budget.

Integrated agencies bring a breadth of expertise to all marketing endeavors. Most full-service agencies have extensive experience in a range of fields. And they are able to help businesses large and small at all stages of growth, from smaller companies and startups just getting off the ground to established conglomerates. They have the capabilities in-house to handle every aspect of branding and marketing. The typical range of services full-service agencies offer include:

  • Brand development and design
  • Formulating a marketing strategy
  • Website design and coding
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Marketing automation and digital promotion via email and social media
  • Content creation
  • Print advertising
  • Sales collateral development
  • Packaging design and manufacturing

strategy team The Clear Marketing Strategy Choice

We may be just a bit biased, but for most businesses, full-service agencies offer distinct advantages, including the simplicity of having one point of contact, deep expertise and a holistic perspective.

Working with a full-service marketing agency gives you the flexibility and scalability to adjust your marketing plan as needed. Whether you need to increase or decrease your marketing efforts, a full-service agency can easily adapt to your needs. They can also help you identify new opportunities and adjust your strategy accordingly to ensure that you stay ahead of the competition.

Working with a full-service marketing agency can be a valuable investment for businesses of all sizes. With their comprehensive marketing strategy, cost-effectiveness, access to the latest marketing tools and technologies, expertise in different industries and flexibility and scalability, a full-service agency can help you achieve your marketing goals and grow your business.

Kinetic Marketing & Creative is a full-service agency recognized for cutting-edge marketing communications and strategy. We offer a full range of marketing services, experienced professionals and strategic processes to get you on track. If you’re tired of a trial-and-error approach to marketing, or frustrated trying to track your return on investment, it’s time to visit with Kinetic.

Rob Seas

Content Strategist/Copywriter

It all began with a father-son fly-fishing trip at 16 years old, and Rob was hooked on Montana. Growing up in Annapolis, Maryland, it took a little while for him to make his way here for good. But in the meantime, he graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Magazine Journalism, held a variety of editorial positions across the country and worked as a freelance web developer for companies large and small, ranging from startups to international corporations like Visa, The Nature Conservancy, and Levi Strauss & Co.

He still loves to fish – and hunt, work magic in the kitchen… and he’s an artist. All of this experience, worldliness and creativity means that Rob is an incredible Kinetic talent and invaluable asset to the team and our clients.

Read more about Rob