Definition of a Full Service Digital Agency

“We’re a full service digital agency” – I’ve heard it so many times. But search for a definition of what this mysterious “full service” actually means and you won’t be overwhelmed with answers. There are even hundreds of agencies bidding on the key phrase through PPC – I bet half of them couldn’t even come up with a succinct classification of the term.

As far as I am aware there are 2 schools of thought. Agencies who believe ‘full service’ means being able to provide their clients with every piece of the digital marketing puzzle. A one stop shop. Everything ranging from website design & build to media planning & buying, right through to SEO, copywriting and social media techniques. I’m not convinced.

The other is far more sophisticated, and forms the argument that ‘full service’ is being able to provide strategy, delivery and analysis. As Richard Sedley, Director of cScape Customer Engagement Unit and Course Director for Social Media at Chartered Institute of Marketing, told me “Today you can be full service with a limited focused offering”. I like this.

“Full service” doesn’t have to mean jack of all trades. In fact, it shouldn’t mean that at all. Nowadays clients need specialists; people who know their discipline intimately and who can work with the client from conception of the idea to delivering the end product, and then studying its performance. This is where the real skill and expertise comes in. Many large agencies have recognised this and segmented their digital offering under the umbrella of their strong brand name – many haven’t. And lets get this straight – calling yourself  ‘full service’ is no unique selling point.

Marketeers have diluted the term “full service” and spun it into a fluffy phrase to try and sell clients more of their agency’s’ services. They’ve missed the point completely.

(Thanks to Richard Sedley of Cscape for his opinions and Jon Marks of LBi for a kick up the back-side to write this post!)

Definition of a full service digital agency

Definition of a full service digital agency


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3 Responses to “Definition of a Full Service Digital Agency”

  1. Twitted by p6_ndp Says:

    […] This post was Twitted by p6_ndp – […]

  2. Jon Marks Says:

    Okay, you beat me. I need to post my thoughts on this soon. If the CMS vendors stop buying each other I might get some time to do it to.

    I agree completely that every man and his dog calls themselves Full Service these days. I don’t think any agency can be genuinely “Full Service” without being much much bigger than LBi is, and we’re pretty big. More on this later.

    But I don’t understand the “Today you can be full service with a limited focused offering” bit from Richard. Does this mean they outsource other services to partners, or are they just redefining what full service means?

    I’m also planning to write another blog post (I plan a lot these days) on “Is Full Service A Good Thing”? Fancy writing one of those too, Neil?

    Finally, do you have any thoughts on this:

    Oh yes, congrats on making the Top Mover and Shaker list thingy.

  3. The Digital Agency Blog Says:

    […] an influential brand, that a ‘one-stop-shop’ solution could be a favourable option. I wrote a post on this a while back that sparked a great deal of interest – which later led me to believe that a […]

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