Agency or Consultancy?

The words ‘agency’ and ‘consultancy’ are bandied around freely – and often interchangeably –  when describing companies that provide PR, marketing and similar services. But they can mean very different things, both literally and in reality.

The word ‘agency’ is derived from the Latin for ‘to do or drive forward’. For many, this would seem to describe the company as one that simply performs tasks on behalf of another, largely or even completely in a transactional way, operating as a supplier rather than a partner.

The word ‘consultancy’, on the other hand, implies a truly collaborative approach. It positions the provider as a trusted partner; an organisation with people who are consulted and offer valued, strategic counsel to the client. And it follows logically from this that, rather than simply doing what they are asked to do, the company respectfully questions and challenges the briefs it receives to ensure the requested approach is the right one – or, taking it a stage further, is part of developing that brief in the first place.

It’s easy to see that a client who is prepared to work with a specialist partner on a true consultancy basis will extract far more value from the relationship than a client who sees that company solely as an ‘agency’ – a supplier delivering what is requested without any enquiry or challenge to that brief.

Involving a marketing or PR partner at the earliest possible stage and giving them a clear understanding of the overall objectives will also inevitably deliver better results than simply specifying what is to be done – particularly if that request is not necessarily the right one to deliver the desired outcomes.

This isn’t to say that any company that calls itself an agency can’t act as a consultancy – far from it. Ultimately it is about the people within it and how they interact with clients. But equally it is about the mindset of key individuals within client businesses and the extent to which they are prepared to be open and honest, admit they may not have all the answers themselves, and allow their chosen partner to recommend, develop and deliver approaches on their behalf. Trust, and the willingness to adopt new ideas –or event change one’s thinking completely – are key to that success.

At 514 Media, we act as a true consultative partner to B2B technology businesses of all sizes, recommending the best ways to achieve their marketing goals. We then deliver those programmes on their behalf, adding measurable value to their bottom line. To find out more about how we can help you, email [email protected].