We believe the model of a full-service agency makes it fundamentally impossible for them to provide you with the highest return on investment.


A quick scan of some of the UK’s leading full-service agencies shows vastly different meanings to the term “full-service”. Front and centre on their websites are descriptions such as: “creative full-service agency”, “full-service marketing communications agency”, “digital full-service agency” and even “full-service advertising”.

These titles started alarm bells ringing straight away.

To be fair to them, various buzzwords and hot topics are buried down deep in their websites that gives a ‘nod’ to everything trending in the industry at present – but there are too many topics in the industry for them to be a master at them all.

Creative is needed at a specific part of a project, as is advertising, branding, digital design and hundreds of other specialities… Is it possible for one agency to be a master of them all? Even if so – does the agency have the ability to deploy the specialist resource to your account exactly when you need it? The chances seem unlikely.

It seems like clients are sold the agencies ‘core service’ even when they don’t need it. Working with a “creative full-service agency”? I think it’s time for your yearly brand redesign.

The “Highest ROI” isn’t sat around one particular metric

Unless we have a vision into alternate realities, it is impossible to know what the “highest ROI” that a full-service agency could have provided your with. The only real way a full-service agency can justify their existence of certain services is through their monthly report.

In a previous job, I asked the account manager why the conversion rate graph had a node every 2.5 days. The account manager responded that “this is the way the data looks most impressive for the client”. Conversions from email to page views (email marketing was the agencies real speciality) were high, reported sensibly and came front and centre on the report. The actual conversion rate (on a site which desperately needed some conversion optimisation as all the client’s time was spent on email marketing) was hidden down the report.

When asked why the data is sampled in blocks of 2.5 days, the account manager responded that “this way the data looks most impressive to the client”.

This anecdote sums up an important point – it’s dishonest.

To conclude, it is almost impossible for all these skills to be bundled together into one agency, and under one roof – especially industry leading talent needed to service enterprise-level accounts.

The Solution

The way to solve this problem is with a framework focusing on collaboration, continuous enhancement and return on investment – giving a client the talent they need, when they need it and ensuring there is clear value in all services given with all stakeholders held to account.

At EWS, management of marketing services makes up a part of our “Agility” methodology. We work with a variety of partners to extract the highest amount value from them on our clients’ behalf. Our relationship with the partners is both collaborative and results-based. They’re encouraged to share their ideas, input on strategy and share the celebrations for the big wins – but they also always report through our standard templates and understand that we will cease their service when they cannot deliver the highest ROI for our client.

We’ve utilised the Agility methodology across many medium to large enterprises including Morrisons and McCormick Schwartz with great success. You can learn more about Agility here.