The Justification for Full-Service Agencies

Time to read: 5 min

In March this year, Resumé’s editor-in-chief, Yasmine Winberg, wrote a column titled “Expert in Everything – No, Thanks” in which she criticized the increasing number of agencies calling themselves full-service agencies. She urges them to stop doing so.

Yasmine advises that one should ask the question, “What value do you add?” to the client’s in-house department. For if you claim to be an expert in everything, it sounds like you’re not really good at anything.

I recognize this issue from various agencies where I have worked. When we formulate our Value Proposition, we ask ourselves: What do we offer? What are we best at?

We often conclude that clients’ goals can be achieved in many different ways. Communication is rarely one-way today, and the channels range from physical to digital, from the product itself to communication.

Strategy with an Open Mind

When we know the goal, we ask ourselves: What do we want to communicate? What should the recipient know, feel, do? The creative concept that meets the communication goals can then advantageously be rolled out in a variety of channels: on the website, in newsletters, on social media – organic and paid, OOH, TV and radio spots, influencer collaborations, events, sample distributions, campaign sites, pop-up stores, etc.

When the creative concept comes from an agency that can deliver across all channels, the client also gets relevant recommendations regarding channel strategies that benefit them.

A purely traditional advertising agency would probably not suggest a web app or AR feature in Snapchat but recommend radio and TV first.

If the client had instead gone to a purely social media agency with the same goal, the concept would have reached the target audience through digital channels but probably missed visibility in the larger awareness-creating spaces like OOH or TV – channels that create new customers, credibility, and make you a viable choice.

To deserve to be called a full-service agency, in my opinion, the agency needs to be strategic. If the client already knows what they want, they can go to a niche agency. But if they want a partner who challenges the brief, puts the client first, and tests hypotheses by working with innovation methods, the client will get maximum value.

The Network Agency

A smaller agency might be questioned if it can even be a full-service agency, as Yasmine points out in her column. That they can hardly be experts in everything. But in my world, a full-service agency is an agency that doesn’t lock itself into one type of output or channel but has an open mind for where the creative process leads them. They then bring in the expertise they have in-house and complement it with freelance skills from their network that are best suited for the job. A network agency on a small scale, in other words.

One can also see it as an alternative to an in-house agency that handles all touchpoints with the user. An extension of the marketing manager’s and the customer experience manager’s mission, and a unifying strategic partner between these parts. All customer interactions should build on each other and convey a cohesive brand, whether they are intended to communicate image or deliver value.

A model showing how different touchpoints either set expectations or meet expectations of the customer.

Collaboration Strengthens the Whole

I, like many others, love working with experts. But it works best when they work together as a team, not in silos. When the product developer teams up with the director, the copywriter, and the strategist to give their perspectives on marketing, a tight team is built that feels ownership of the whole and becomes invested in the client.

A full-service agency that has experience working with all kinds of channels and techniques thus has an overall view of the possibilities and how they are connected in an ecosystem related to the service or product and marketing.

A Relationship to Invest In

Think of your friends. You might have a friend who shares a niche interest and another who caters to a different area of interest. But there are those friends with whom you spend more everyday life or have a broader range of activities together. It is often these friends who know you best, who know your strengths and weaknesses, and who can give you the best advice when you need it.

In the same way, a full-service agency is a partner worth building a relationship with and investing in, in my opinion. Read about how we work at Frank.



  • Customer Experience,
  • Design,
  • Digital Channels,
  • Communication,
  • Interactions points,
  • Service Design,
  • Strategy,
  • Strategic partner,
  • Collaboration
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