Niche or Holistic? The Identity Crisis in Modern Marketing

Consultancies have been vying for agency turf for a while. But have you wondered what is in it for them or why they feel it is a lucrative business to be in?


The consultancies have been trying to get into the turf of agencies for a while, and it is old news. But have you wondered what is in it for them or why they feel it is a lucrative business to be in?
Of course, it is all about getting a share of marketing dollars, as billions of dollars are annually spent on it.

Essentially it comes from the convergence of business and marketing strategy. Companies increasingly seek holistic solutions to their business problems, and the marketing needs to be aligned with the overall business goals. The main reason is the rise of technology in marketing and the data that is readily available from the use of digital media.

While consultancies usually start from a larger business perspective, they usually stop and design a holistic strategy that provides a roadmap and extensive solutions to reach there, increasing the profit margins of a business by driving efficiency or investing in certain growth drives over a long term.


Agencies on the other hand – are more focussed on the communication part of marketing. In fact out of the 4P’s as it is defined, they more or less focus on just one of the P’s. It puts them firmly in a small, often in a bucket of execution of “communication” which is driven by creative ideas and media buying and planning.

“Where there is data, there are consultants!”

Therefore, the problems are two-fold:

  1. Perception of business owners and clients of agencies as niche operators in larger marketing strategy and more towards execution of tactics side of things.
  2. Lack of understanding of business, or providing solutions to larger business problems they might be facing. This again is driven by both their perception/credibility of them as well actual dearth of expertise in their setup.

Now again, there are two broad camps of people who have a point of view about the current situation.

  1. Stick to what you know: This camp believes that agencies are a creative bunch, and they should stick to what they have been known to do best – make great advertising that sells products.
  2. Be more consultant-like: The other camp believes the rise of technology and pressure to drive efficiency calls for agencies to move more towards the business side of things by building in skill sets of business acumen, data analytics, tech expertise, and integration of services they provide.

Which side are you on?

As an end note – Wish you all readers a great 2024, I hope you took some much-needed rest before all the madness of a new year begins.

The views expressed in this article are personal, and not necessarily those of the author’s employer.

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