Client / Agency relationships – the evolution continues…

As we enter the last quarter of the year, much continues to change in the world of search – technically and commercially.

At Leapfrogg, we have also become ever more aware that those clients who really believe in search as a core part of their marketing armoury will face a key question as they reconsider their objectives and strategies for 2013; how much of the work involved in search – especially in terms of pure implementation – can or has to be brought in-house?  What is the best balance of staffing up internally and retaining external, specialist expertise to ensure their strategy and tactics are making the most of how search marketing is evolving?

This has become a more frequent discussion with our clients this year than ever before.  As clients develop more confidence in what search can bring in terms of revenue and ROI, so there comes a time when they weigh up whether extra budget allocation for search should be invested in expanding the team internally or with external specialists.  Quite rightly, it’s not best use of client budget to be spending it getting external specialists to be doing ‘grunt’ work.  At the same time, if someone in-house is being tasked with devising a search strategy and executing this tactically, alongside other marketing responsibilities and tasks, they are at risk of not being as ‘sharp’ on the latest insights and techniques that specialist agencies make it their business to know.

We are in the process of working with a couple of our clients through this transition process, where elements of search strategy and tactics are ‘in-sourced’ and our expertise is deployed in a more purely consultative role, advising, guiding, corroborating and fine-tuning.

We look forward to seeing how this will evolve.  We may find that the skills and expertise in-house are more robust, and that they can throw off the need to have agency ‘stabilisers’ sooner than perhaps even they think. Alternatively, it may be that the ‘weaning off’ process has tried to do too much too soon, to the detriment of campaign performance, and so agency involvement may need to be re-assessed.

Only time will tell.  We shall adapt and adjust as we always must in the business services sector, as client/agency relationships continue to evolve naturally.

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