Do you need a vertical agency?

  • Categories:

    Brand Strategy

  • Date:

    August 13, 2019

Do you need a vertical agency?

Brand Strategy

Whether you’re searching for a new agency partner or project work support, and whether you sell building products or banking services, you may have wondered whether you should hire an agency or marketing communications firm that specializes in your industry.

Vertical agencies have carved out a corner of the marketing world by dedicating their time and resources to a specialized industry — and promoting it really, really well. But are they the right choice for your brand?

Why do many companies opt to work with vertical agencies?

Vertical marketing agencies are able to sell at least one benefit their generalist competitors can’t claim: a deep and informed understanding of the vertical they serve.

These are volatile, politically charged times, and if you make marketing decisions for your company, you have a lot on your plate. That means teaching your agency about your business is the last thing you want or have the time to do. Luckily, if you work with a vertical specialist, you’ll benefit from their built-in thought leadership and category expertise. You’ll reduce relationship ramp-up time and rest easy knowing your partner understands the nomenclature and many nuances of your world.

  • Do you work in an industry with its own complex language? Copywriters experienced at wordsmithing for companies like yours won’t have to start with beginner-level basics.
  • Want to educate contractors on a revolutionary but highly technical new building product? A vertical partner already knows how to talk to those contractors — and where to find them.
  • Does your industry move at a rapid pace? A vertical specialist is always tracking trends.
  • Facing new tariffs? Industry specialists understand what that does to marketing budgets and how to react.
  • Vertically focused planners know your audiences and your competitive landscape.
  • Vertical public relations mavens and media buyers are on a first-name basis with editors and media reps at the trade publications that matter to you.
  • Vertical content creators can build content quickly.

Keep in mind: Among the 80,000-odd agencies in the United States, the lion’s share are generalists. If you only have a short period of time to pick a partner, you can significantly reduce stress and save time by narrowing your list to agencies that specialize in your line of work.

What are common examples of agency core competencies?

Chances are, you already know some of them: Finance, health care, home and technology make the top of the list. At Wray Ward, we spend all day at work thinking about home, channeling our marketing chops and deep industry intelligence into positioning and building brands in the home and building category. We made an intentional and strategic decision to focus on our core competencies in this vertical, and our clients reap the benefits of our focused expertise.

Other shops specialize in specific customer demographics. Targeting millennials? There’s an agency for that. Others focus on one slice of an industry, such as collegiate sports.

Should you hire a full-service agency?

When it comes to verticals, I will always argue that brands are better off going the specialist route. After all, a partner that owns an intimate understanding of your unique business challenges is an effective partner.

But where marketing solutions are concerned, should you hire a full-service agency or a shop that specializes in a particular offering?

Full-service agencies are equipped to address every aspect of your marketing, from website development to media planning and buying. That means pieces and parts that work together, rather than in silos. It means one or two primary points of contact instead of a digital rolodex of client business directors and project managers.

“When I think about Wray Ward, the immediate thing that comes to mind is that they are a partner. From the day we hired them, Wray Ward has served as an extension of my LEVOLOR brand team. Our highly collaborative partnership has resulted in our ability to propel LEVOLOR in the marketplace.” –Angie Shelton, Vice President of Marketing/R&D, LEVOLOR

The world is becoming more omnichannel every day. Nothing operates in a vacuum — at least, it shouldn’t — and successful marketing strategies require a holistic approach. The most valuable agency partners understand and address all the elements in their clients’ larger ecosystem.

“VELUX America has experienced record leads and sales volume, much to be attributed to the collective marketing efforts of the team at Wray Ward.” –Chan Hoyle, National Marketing & Communications Manager, VELUX America

What else should you know before hiring a marketing partner?

Vertical or generalist? Full-service or boutique? These aren’t the only factors you should consider when evaluating agency partners, though they’re the big ones. Make sure you think about all of these questions as well:

  • What are my marketing objectives? What do I want to achieve?
  • What kind of work has the agency produced for my industry? Do they have case studies in my vertical?
  • Are they a good cultural fit?
  • Are they digitally native?
  • Do they speak in terms of return on investment (ROI)?
  • Do they offer data analytics?

We’re living in precarious times, but with every risk comes great opportunity. What marketing challenge do you need to tackle? Send me a note — I’d love to explore whether our team is a fit for yours.

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