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Starting a business from scratch is often challenging. On top of the usual tasks, business owners also need to work on areas like marketing, sales, and human resources.
Since these things take a lot of time and paperwork, many SMBs outsource these tasks. In fact, research shows that as many as 34% of small businesses outsource digital marketing tasks.
Now, there are different types of agencies: full-stack marketing agencies and those that specialize in one area. It may seem like hiring the best social media marketing agency is the go-to, but it’s not always like that.
Do you have enough time to coordinate multiple agencies? And can you afford all of them?
In this article, we will explain what full-stack and specialized marketing agencies are, go over their advantages and disadvantages, and help you decide which option is the best for your business.
Full-Stack Marketing Agency
The term “full-stack” originates from software development. It’s used to describe developers that can handle both the front-end and back-end of the app, which means they have a wider set of skills than those that specialize in just one aspect.
Following the same logic, full-stack marketing agencies provide services in virtually all areas and aspects of marketing – web design and development, branding, digital marketing, and many other areas.
Of course, you don’t have to opt for all their services, and that’s the beauty of it. Depending on your budget, the full-stack marketing agency of your choice will create a package of services just for you.
Some agencies hire full-stack marketers that have practical knowledge in all marketing areas, while others have experts working in different areas of marketing. Either way, you don’t have to worry about that because they all come off as a team in the end.
Specialized Marketing Agency
Unlike full-stack agencies, specialized marketing agencies provide their services in one area of marketing. Some of the areas they specialize in are:
- web design and web development
- search engine optimization (SEO)
- content marketing
- social media marketing
- email marketing
What sets them apart from full-stack marketing agencies is their expert knowledge in the areas they specialize in. This is where most people jump to conclusions and automatically assume they’re always the best choice.
Pros and Cons of Full-Stack and Specialized Marketing Agencies
Both full-stack marketing agencies and specialized marketing agencies have advantages and disadvantages. Once you understand them, you’ll be able to decide which option is better for your business.
So, without further ado, let’s review them.
Communicating with Full-Stack Agencies Is Easier
According to the research, 53% of SMBs communicate with their outsourced teams on a daily basis.
Now, it’s easy to do that when you’re working with a full-stack marketing agency. All you have to do is make one call and talk to the agency’s representative. Unfortunately, that’s not so easy when you’re working with a specialized marketing agency.
As specialized marketing agencies have experts in only one marketing area, you’ll need to work with multiple agencies to cover all grounds. This means you’ll have to talk to each of their representatives separately. You’ll also need to coordinate their activities, as you’re the one in charge.
This is much more time-consuming and complicated, especially if you don’t have any previous experience with these things.
Full-Stack Agencies Are More Scalable
When you’re just starting your business, your marketing needs will most likely be quite limited. You’ll want to have a simple website.
As your business grows and your profit gets bigger, you’ll also be able to invest much more into marketing. At that point, you’ll probably wish to upgrade your existing website and make it look a bit more polished.
Adapting to these changes is easy when you’re working with a full-stack marketing agency. All you have to do is talk to the team you already have at your disposal and tell them what you want. It could be a completely new website or a new email marketing campaign, it makes no difference - it’s just one phone call away.
Things are a bit more complicated when you’re working with a specialized agency. If the agency you’re working with doesn’t have a social media marketing expert, you’ll have to look for someone else. But that’s not so easy. It usually takes some time, as you’ll need to do your research and ask around to make the best choice.
As you can see, full-stack agencies are much more scalable than specialized marketing agencies.
Working with Multiple Agencies Is More Expensive
At last, we come to one of the main reasons why SMBs work with full-stack agencies instead of specialized ones – they’re usually more affordable. Naturally, quality doesn’t come for free and this is why specialized marketing agencies tend to charge way more than full-stack agencies.
In the beginning, SMBs often face financial difficulties, which is why full-stack marketing agencies are a good choice for those that are just starting.
No matter how well you’re doing, you probably don’t have enough assets to outsource the entire marketing department and hire multiple marketing agencies right off the bat. But, as time goes by, this will change.
Full-Stack Agencies Keep Digital Channels Aligned
The point of all marketing channels is to support the mission, vision, and values of your business. It doesn’t matter if you’re using emails or social media platforms – each marketing channel serves to create a brand identity aligned with your main business goals.
When you’re working with one agency, they will easily know if two campaigns are compatible in a way that they strengthen your brand identity. Things are much more difficult when there are multiple agencies involved because of their coordination.
Now, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to reach that goal with specialized agencies. You’ll just need to invest a bit more time into coordinating and managing teams from multiple agencies.
Specialized Agencies Offer More Expertise
So far, we’ve pointed out the main benefits of working with a full-stack marketing agency. But, things are not so black and white. Specialized marketing agencies have a lot to offer and it all starts with the quality of their services.
They are pros at what they do. People who work in specialized marketing agencies invest much more time perfecting their knowledge and skills, thus providing a higher-quality service than those that work in full-stack agencies.
Of course, this doesn’t mean full-stack agencies do their job badly, it simply means you’re more likely to work with top experts if you opt for a specialized marketing agency.
Specialized Agencies Are Less Likely to Use Upselling and Cross-Selling
Upselling and cross-selling are both commonly-used sales strategies.
Upselling is about encouraging the customer to buy a more expensive product than the one they initially intended to while cross-selling is aimed at persuading the customer to buy an additional product, compatible with the one they’ve already bought.
Since specialized marketing agencies are focused on only one area of marketing and put a lot of effort into providing a high-end quality of service, they are less likely to use these sales strategies.
Full-stack marketing agencies, on the other hand, offer a range of services that are more convenient for upselling and cross-selling. For that reason, full-stack agencies forget to focus on what’s important – the quality of the service.
Specialized Agencies Provide a More Personal Touch
If the full-stack marketing agency you choose isn’t a startup, you’re likely to have a better relationship with the specialized agency as they provide a more personal touch. Full-stack agencies typically don’t have enough time to have a meaningful relationship, as their influx of businesses is usually very high.
Now, you might be wondering why this is so important. Obviously, you don’t have to be friends with the people working at a specialized marketing agency. But, a personal touch is key for the best possible service.
Full-Stack Marketing Agency or Specialized Marketing Agency?
Now that you’re familiar with what full-stack and specialized agencies are, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, you’ll easily know which option is the right one.
For instance, if you’re among the 24% of SMBs that want to increase efficiency through outsourcing, specialized marketing agencies are not a good fit for you. You’ll waste way too much time coordinating them, and it won’t pay off.
But, if working with top experts is your number one priority, you’re better off with a specialized marketing agency.
On the other hand, if you want to improve in just one area of marketing, you can work with both full-stack and specialized marketing agencies. A full-stack marketing agency can handle most of the marketing channels, while a specialized agency can provide the best possible service in the area of their expertise.
To sum it up
Full-stack marketing agencies and specialized marketing agencies are both great choices for SMBs.
Specialized marketing agencies have highly-skilled professionals working for them, which is why many people consider them a better option.
But, as full-stack agencies are typically more affordable and offer a wide range of services, some SMBs are fonder of this type of marketing agency. Either way, it’s simply a matter of priorities.
So, take a piece of paper, write down your main business goals, and then compare them to the pros and cons of full-stack and specialized marketing agencies. The one that supports your business goals more than the other one is the winner.
Melissa Gray is a freelance writer and an organizational psychologist. Her focus is primarily on marketing and new digital trends across the world. She is also a passionate gamer, with special interest in narrative design. She writes for Digital Strategy One.
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