Should service providers expand offerings?

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Should service providers expand offerings?
Should service providers expand offerings?

Economic instability and tech advances have forced companies to reexamine the services they offer. Our experts debate whether service providers should become “one-stop shops.”

CONTENDER

Mike Neumeier
Principal, Arketi Group
20-plus years of marketing, PR and analyst relations experience

Yes. Change is enviable, and always has been.

A cornerstone of the marketing industry is its ability to evolve by rapidly embracing new forms of communications to engage audiences.

We're in a creative field and, as such, must challenge ourselves to think beyond the tried and routine.

Over the past decade – heck, over the past 24 months – the explosive growth in tools and channels has been dizzying. YouTube, blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, mobile coupons, StumbleUpon — the list is exhausting.

Savvy agencies are eager to use these tools to market their clients. Industry leaders are evolving and experimenting with new solutions, and as a result are creating a more effective collaboration with clients.

As an industry, we cannot let the rapid rate of change pigeonhole us into owning only a small segment of marketing. Fragmented “specialists” increase the management burden for their clients – and water down the impact of integrated marketing. No matter how solid their talents, specialized agencies ultimately face the same future as the traditional print agencies of yesterday: shrinking revenues, talent drain and client fatigue.

Soon “digital marketing” will become synonymous with marketing itself. Just as we mastered innovations like radio, movies, TV and the Web, we must now welcome the next generation of communications tools.

Agencies and clients who embrace change today will see bigger returns tomorrow.

Those who don't will likely not see too many tomorrows.

CONTENDER

Tracey Gould      
Marketing director, Baskervill
16 years of small business marketing services experience

No. During times of economic uncertainty, declining retail sales and consumer confidence, not to mention a tight (or non-existent) financial lending climate, a company's first instinct may be to diversify and try something new.

The leaders of a niche agency, offering one or two core services in the midst of the ‘Great Recession,' may be wondering how they can sustain staff, vendors, creditors, and more important, clients and customers. They may want to jump feet-first into a product or services market, hoping it will help sustain them through tough times.

Diversification, they may feel, is the only way to make it to the light at the other end of the proverbial tunnel. My advice to them is to pause and take a deep breath.

Companies will find that by sticking with what they know best and focusing on their core capabilities, they will fare much better than those who enter unfamiliar territory, particularly during trying economic times.

Adding core competencies or products can distract from an organization's vision, cost an insurmountable amount in terms of time and resources, and create a wide margin of error due to the large learning curve involved.

By the time the Great Recession is truly over, companies will find their new markets haven't even gotten off the ground, but the demand for their original services and products will be overwhelming. Unless your product or service is obsolete, having a niche in an ever-crowded, competitive market will give you exactly what you need to stand out – a differentiator.

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