Forming my Identity: Am I a Marketing Consultancy or a Marketing Agency?

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Lately I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis.  When explaining to people what I now do for a living I’m never really sure what to say.  Is Genie Insights a marketing consultancy company or a marketing agency?  I’ve come to the conclusion that I am both and neither!  Let me explain…

To start, let’s look at an official description of each:

Oxford Dictionaries defines the term ‘consultancy’ as “a professional practice that gives expert advice within a particular field” and defines ‘agency’ as “a business or organisation providing a particular service on behalf of another business, person, or group”.

The difference, I believe, is that a consultant gives advice, whereas an agency provides a service.  In other words, a marketing consultant will devise a strategy and a marketing agency will implement a strategy.

In my mind, an agency is much more hands-on than a consultancy.  They will embed into the organisation, acting as an extension of their in-house team, but they will need a lot of direction from the company in terms of what is required.  In contrast, a consultant is more likely to come in as a one-off to identify a problem area and advise on how to fix it (set a plan of action), but not actually implement the fix.  They may, however, introduce experts to carry out the implementation or to do training or mentoring with the organisation, therefore giving them the skills to do the execution of the plan of action in-house.  The reason for employing either a marketing agency or a marketing consultancy therefore comes down to where your resource gap lies.  Do you need help devising or implementing a marketing strategy?

I imagine that the term ‘consultant’ will conjure up images of experience and expertise, and I also think it is fair to say that most agencies are normally (not always) providing a service in a single discipline, for example digital marketing, advertising or PR, meaning that engaging with one agency may not be enough to implement a full marketing strategy.

Is there a terminology that covers both strategy development and hands-on implementation?  On my website I have tried using the all-encompassing term, ‘full service marketing agency’, but I suspect most people won’t know what that means.  Other terms I’ve heard bandied about are ‘integrated marketing agency’, ‘marketing solutions agency’, ‘cradle-to-grave marketing agency’… bad, awful and even worse!

On my website I also use the terms: ‘outsourced marketing function’, ‘extension of your team’ and  “your Marketing Director, Manager and Assistant all rolled into one”.  I believe that, to add value to an organisation, a one-hit approach doesn’t really work.  Regardless of what you call it – consultancy…agency…whatever – I believe that your marketing partner needs to understand your business fully to enable them to really do it justice.

So, where does Genie Insights fit into the above categorisations?  Well, herein lies the problem: I believe that I can offer the strategy AND the implementation.  So, does this make me neither or both?

In my blog post, “Genie Insights: the new kid on the block”, which talks about the rationale behind my business name, I touch on the origins of the word “genie” and the association with the word “guardian”, the term that is used in the strapline for my company logo.  The word guardian can be defined as “one who looks after, protects, or defends” or in law as “someone legally appointed to manage the affairs of a person incapable of acting for himself”.  Although the legal version is normally used in the context of a minor, if we generalise the definition, it fits well with my approach to my clients.

So perhaps I had the answer all along…I am neither a Marketing Consultancy nor a Marketing Agency, but a Marketing Guardian 😉

If your business needs a Marketing Guardian, to devise and/or implement a strategy, I’d love to hear from you.

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