Many businesses feel stuck when it comes to answering this important question: Is it more effective to hire agencies who specialize in only one aspect of marketing (such as SEO) and combine them with single-purpose, third-party tools (such as Podium) for my various marketing needs, or does it make more sense to go with a single marketing provider that serves as an all-in-one solution?
To help you explore both single and multi-vendor marketing solutions, here’s how they stack up against each other across the following areas:
- Operational efficiency
- Cost & scalability
- Technology integration & data sharing
- Branding consistency
- Vendor sustainability
1) Operational efficiency
When it comes to operational efficiency, one upside to this approach is that it can be less taxing on your business as you get started. Onboarding two or three marketing apps are arguably less time-intensive than onboarding a full suite of marketing tools.
The operational downside to working with multiple specialist partners and tools is you end up playing the proverbial quarterback, where you are the only source of truth, driving marketing campaigns, messaging, budget, and growth goals across all channels so they are coordinated, tracked, and optimized...its a full-time job.
Alternatively, with an all-in-one marketing partner, you’re able to cut down on the time and complexity that comes with managing your marketing. Managing only one partner, one point of contact for your entire marketing program means more time in your day for running the business.
The multi-vendor approach can provide your business with multiple specialized tools and partners, but it comes with the cost of being time-intensive and operationally inefficient. Every business owner I know who is serious about growing their business doesn’t ever have enough of two things: time and money. Choosing the right all-in-one marketing partner who gives you the technology, expertise, and support you’re looking for without the time commitment (and related costs) is the way to go.
2) Cost & scalability
Some business owners feel a full-suite digital marketing partner will be too expensive for them, especially if they are just starting out and are concerned about how to fund their growth.
In this case, many choose a couple of one-off, specialized service providers, or marketing technologies that fall within their budget and then add vendors and tools as they’re able to in the future.
What many business owners don’t realize is that a slow buildup to a fully multichannel digital presence is more costly in the long run. Fewer marketing channels means a limited ability to attract more customers (therefore stunting revenue growth), but the financial and operational costs of maintaining a network of numerous disconnected marketing solutions can actually be surprisingly high.
Alternatively, working with an all-in-one partner brings cost and scale efficiencies to your business.
There’s greater opportunity for shared costs between various lines of service, such as shared overhead costs, shared resources that can be applied across various departments (e.g., HR, accounting, IT support, etc.), more capital available for investment in technology, etc. This resource overlap is passed down to clients, resulting in greater cost savings and efficiency over the long run.
You also avoid the hidden cost of time wasted and missed opportunity by trying to manage multiple platforms, tools, and partners.
With an all-in-one solution, you have one call, one platform, and one dashboard to see the entire picture of your marketing investment. It saves you massive amounts of time, and it also drives a higher cumulative effect for better results.
3) Technology integration & data sharing
A benefit of working with numerous marketing partners and tools is that you can hand-select the different partners and technologies you want to work with, mixing and matching solutions however you see fit for your business. A drawback is the challenges you’ll inevitably face to integrate those solutions.
When you work with numerous marketing agencies and tools, they each will have their own technologies and reporting systems that may or may not be compatible with each other...and it’s likely that they are not.
Even with application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow you to sync up systems, they do not always work as well as intended. The more systems you add, the more challenging it becomes to create fluid integration, accurate and consistent reporting, and a clear understanding of how your marketing investments are paying off.
A good all-in-one marketing partner will offer a suite of marketing technologies, services, and solutions that are native to a single system. That means that they are all built on the same platform, share data across the tools and technologies, and all talk to each other.
This means you only have to log into one platform to review your website analytics, receive updates about your online reviews and reputation, evaluate and manage your digital advertising campaigns, listen to recorded calls, rate and analyze leads, and more.
With this setup, not only is your data more accurate and easily accessible, but it can also be analyzed together, making it faster and easier to really understand how your marketing is working for you.
Considering that 94% of businesses say they struggle with their existing apps and software, an all-in-one marketing provider that offers streamlined technology and a seamless user experience can be a real game-changer.
Going with multiple partners gives you more control in choosing the specific tech solutions you want at a more granular level, but doing so, you are inevitably creating data islands.
With an all-in-one-partner, you use the tools and technology that are built to work together seamlessly, therefore creating an easier experience, optimizing performance, and simplifying data sharing and transparency.
4) Brand consistency
Sure, it’s possible to maintain strong, consistent branding when you take a multi-vendor approach, but it requires you to over-communicate with your multiple vendors to ensure they are in complete alignment with your branding, messaging, and marketing campaigns.
With an all-in-one marketing solution, you’re able to shift the execution, and more importantly, the policing of your branding to a single provider. With one partner to manage, there’s less chance for brand inconsistencies and greater opportunities for brand alignment across all your campaigns, website, and social channels.
Consistent branding is possible with either a multi-vendor or all-in-one vendor approach, but using an all-in-one partner means that you’re not forced to manage multiple, independent providers. This naturally leads to more consistency while requiring less work for you and your business.
5) Vendor sustainability
Whenever you select a vendor, you need to think about that company’s or agency’s ability to meet your needs for the long haul.
- Are they a proven and recognized leader within their field of marketing?
- Are they well-established in their market with a long history and track record of achieving positive results for other businesses like yours?
- Do they have the financial resources and talent to continually innovate their digital marketing technology and services
If you can answer yes to these questions, you’re probably working with a provider equipped to adapt to changes in the marketplace and is, therefore, better positioned for market longevity. (Keep in mind that nearly half (45%) of businesses fail within their first five years.) Taking that into consideration, here are a few points to consider when evaluating both single-service and all-in-one service providers.
There are plenty of well-established single-line service providers, such as SEO agencies and website platforms, that have been in business for long periods of time with proven track records. However, in recent years, there has been a slew of VC-backed marketing tech companies who have only one product and are eagerly seeking enough market adoption so that they can prove their financial model is viable. These are the businesses to be wary of when choosing them for your marketing solution, as their sustainability may not stick around for the long term.
Many all-in-one service providers are typically larger companies with a proven and viable business model. They have more financial resources to invest in personnel and technology. They can also weather economic cycles and storms, as we have recently seen in 2020. All this means is that your marketing partner is on solid financial footing and a proven business model, so they can worry about your marketing and not about how they’re going to stay in business.
Whether you decide to go with numerous marketing partners or an all-in-one solution, it’s essential that you do your research to ensure the resource you choose has the necessary expertise, financial stability, and quality of service to meet your business’ needs for the long term.
Our recommendation for the most effective digital marketing
You will need to evaluate which type of marketing solution makes the most sense for your business; however, our recommendation is to work with an all-in-one partner...one team of experienced marketing experts who know your industry, understand how to make your brand stand out, and have the tools and technology to drive a positive ROI with your marketing investments.
To learn more about how an all-in-one marketing solution could benefit your business, contact our team! We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.