“Anyone who tells you they can handle all of your marketing needs with one-stop shopping is someone you should run away from …quickly.”
~ Brian Kurtz
Convenience and one-stop shopping rules many aspects of our daily life. That’s OK for groceries and other commodities, but surely when it comes to positioning your business in the marketplace it deserves better than to be seen as a ‘one-stop shop’ for whatever service you provide.
As a result of technological advances and the internet, no matter what service or product you deliver your target market has more choices than ever before. This means that you have a choice as well: you can either compete on price or you can establish your reputation as an authority in your particular field or speciality.
Many businesses start out as specialists then bow to the pressures of their clients/customers and widen their spectrum of services. I understand the desire to make things easy for your clients by enabling them to work with a single entity, but it doesn’t always lead to the best outcome.
The Temptation to Build (or Buy From) a One-Stop Marketing Shop…
Almost every service business owner will have met the client who asks, “Do you do ‘x’?” where ‘x’ is a related service. In a very few businesses, this approach makes sense. For most of you, it doesn’t and you know why it isn’t best either for you or for your customers. The same reasons apply to why you shouldn’t buy all your marketing in one place – unless you want a convenient, entry-level option.
For simplicity, I’m going to use my own business as an example, but please don’t get caught up in the distinctions of copy, design, websites, and PR… the principle applies equally to accountants, lawyers, health professionals etc…
I’ve lost count of the number of times an author with whom I have worked on a manuscript and book marketing strategy asks me whether I provide public relations, design, layout, and other related services. For a while I worked with a carefully chosen network of other professionals in those specialties because I thought it was what my clients wanted. I would either manage the project or refer clients to partners, but later I realised that this was not actually the best way of serving my clients or colleagues because the very ease of the arrangement reduced the likelihood that they would select the best person for their needs on a specific project.
As a buyer, there is always the temptation to work with a single provider because this usually provides both convenience and potential price advantages. However, before you decide to go this route you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I need a specialist or am I happy with a Jack-of-all-Trades?
- Do I really know the details of this process/purchase or might I need some guidance and advice?
- Is the convenience/cost advantage of a one-stop-shop worth the potential reduction in ROI for this project?
Your answer to these questions might make it clear that a one-stop-shop is your best choice, or they might lead you to consider why a specialist option might be more appropriate. The worst thing you can possibly do when it comes to marketing is to buy whatever the person you are talking to happens to be selling!
The Specialist Advantage in Marketing…
Opportunities in marketing and advertising are now infinite. The exponential increase in media, technology, and growth opportunities are both tantalising and dangerous for any business and you should take care to make wise decisions so that you do not end up running after a series of shiny objects and wasting your money.
Here’s my philosophy… the fundamental principles for effective marketing don’t change, the specific details and mechanics do change. This means that you should build a marketing strategy that is platform agnostic in consultation with a marketing strategist who will look at your business objectively and make recommendations that include rigorous testing.
Once you have your strategy worked out, you should then find specialist platform strategists for each of the platforms you have decided to try. The reality is that these days if you want to maximise the results from your marketing in any arena you need to work with a specialist. A generalist will only provide average results.
Why I Stopped Offering Peripheral Services Through My Network
I work with clients from all around the world. Most of them have their own network of website builders, graphic designers, copywriters, PR agents, list brokers, online and offline media sales people, technical specialists in various platforms, and printers, but I’m often asked for my recommendations. These days I tend to provide my clients with a list of questions to ask and ideas about the answers they should be looking for instead of a direct recommendation.
The truth is each of these roles requires a specialist and in most cases, the best choice of specialist will differ between projects. So, when I provide a client with a list of questions to ask, I’m not being churlish I’m helping them to take ownership of the project and the results. It means that they know what they are trying to achieve and why they are choosing supplier A rather than supplier B. As a result, they have a better relationship as well as achieving better results.
Why Having Someone Reject You as a Marketing Client is Good
One of the website builders I work with recently turned down a lucrative project. As he said, “My team has the capacity and the capability to build this site, but we’re not a good fit. This client wants to build a certain interface and we don’t believe it’s the best choice for their business. In fact, we think it’s a bad choice for technical reasons, but, if they’re going to go that route they need a website designer who believes in the project.”
A graphic designer with whom I work closely has stopped taking on web projects because, as she says, “I put my heart into my projects as well as my time. I can design for the web, and the results delight my clients, but I love direct mail and the results delight me as well as my clients.”
A Facebook marketing specialist who delivers amazing results for his clients said this, “I would have loved to work with Jenny on Facebook, but she also wanted me to do her YouTube advertising, even after I explained why I don’t mix the two platforms. She was the second client I rejected that day, the other one wanted to follow advice she’d heard from a third-party which would have diluted her results.”
I do the same thing for my clients. I can and do keep an eye on Facebook, YouTube, and magazine advertising launches, but I only design and monitor them for a couple of long-term clients who want specific results. I don’t accept certain ghostwriting projects because I’m not willing to immerse myself in the subject to that extent… and there are other ghostwriters who can do a better job than I could.
I guess the point is, that if a specialist has advice about your plan, then you should listen. If you already know what you want to do and don’t want to hear any different ideas then a one-stop-shop might be the right place to go.