External Marketing Firms Offer the Best of Both Worlds

Successful marketing is vital for corporate success. Managing the marketing process in today’s digital world  is complex and fraught with difficulties. Which is why large organizations increasingly turn to outside marketing firms for help.

As McKinsey describes it; The teams that deliver these marketing services need to function as an interconnected ‘ecosystem.’ An early decision is figuring out what to handle internally and what to outsource to an external partner. Core competencies such as strategy are best handled by the brand, while execution functions and experimenting with new media or channels can be handled by external partners.

McKinsey & Company

Why do well known brands work with firms like, OOKII Company, to help stimulate their marketing process? There are a number of reasons – here are some of the main ones.

  • Discrete project-based work– such as a new product introduction.
  • Specialism beats one size fits all – outside partners can tap into a wealth of specialists and manage those efforts.
  • Guerrilla not gorilla – external firms can often cut through the all too familiar bureaucracy that limits larger organizations.
  • It’s not just about more horsepower – Large organizations can sometimes find it hard to see the wood for the trees. The top talent in an external firm  brings new ideas and approaches.
  • Who dares wins – outside partners are unhampered by the internal politics of a larger company.

The need for discrete project-based work

More brands are moving marketing work in-house. To some extent this is because companies want to respond quickly to execute on digital advertising campaigns, such as content marketing and social media channels. (see previous post on PESO).

This shift has created more opportunity for small firms to pitch and win well defined, one-off projects, and when done well, to then leverage this initial project into follow on work. To do this successfully you need to have expertise in scoping projects and then managing those projects to a successful conclusion. Systems such as TSheets will enable you to track actual hours against budget and report out in detail to the company you are working with when it comes to invoicing time.

Specialism beats one size fits all

When working on projects marketers will want to hire the very best – and by the best we mean agencies that have specific experience that relates to the project under discussion. Companies who retail leather sofas using consumer finance will ideally want to find a partner who has prior experience of exactly that.  This is partly because there isn’t time to onboard a new agency and get the team up to speed for a one off discrete project.  And partly because it de-risks the project, improving the chance of success.

External firms need to be crystal clear about what differentiates them, this differentiation will be supported by appropriate credentials (case studies & white papers) and team members who have in depth expertise in the sector.

Guerrilla not gorilla

Large external partners inevitably have more processes, approvals and generally more internal inertia than smaller agencies. Companies already have to navigate their own bureaucratic systems and approvals want to partner with more nimble partners.  Big brands with big vision work with OOKII Company because we share their perspective and values, not their size. It’s a change not unlike the agile development process that swept through the software industry.

  • Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools
  • Working solutions over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a rigid plan

It’s not just about more horsepower.

Companies want more than just foot soldiers when they engage with smaller marketing firms. They want to work alongside experienced principals who can add to their corporate perspective and bring new and innovative insights to customer comprehension. Once the strategy is defined             it shouldn’t be delegated to less experienced staffers to delivery.

Who dares wins.

Increasingly, the best and most talented marketing professionals are setting up their own firms. Larger companies enjoy working with this high level talent, talent that is often just not accessible in larger agencies that have been absorbed into a holding company model. This external talent is unhampered (for the most part) by the internal politics on the client organisation. They are often willing to take risks that the in house team would be averse to taking.


The traditional notion of managing a single media agency with one or two creative agencies of record seems like a relic from ancient marketing history. Today’s world features multiple channels and capabilities, all of which need to be closely coordinated to be effective.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

About adriangstewart

Senior executive with expert knowledge of all aspects of strategic marketing and a track record of creating sustainable competitive advantage. International management and leadership experience in both B2B and B2C organizations. Specialties:Strategic marketing management including; new product development, product life cycle management, business relationship management, market segmentation, marketing information systems, e-commerce and social media marketing.
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