Part of the answer lies in the culture at large. The evolution of content consumption, with the possible lone exception of binge-watching, has favored piecemeal interactions. We don’t read newspapers front page to back page anymore. We read individual articles. We don’t buy albums. We buy songs. This behavior has conditioned us to be transactional, satisfying immediate needs instead of stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture. In marketing, this piecemeal tendency manifests in hiring channel-specific partners for channel-specific results, an approach that sacrifices long-term goals in favor of short-term gains.
You may be able to get away with that approach if you’re a very large organization and you have the resources to engage a partner for each channel. If you’re a mid-sized company, however, you don’t have the wherewithal to engage partners in all the channels in which you operate, thereby creating gaps in your marketing. You’ll be forced to choose a few channel partners, or, in some cases, just one, imbuing your marketing with an inherent bias. Instead of choosing the best marketing mix for your business and communications objectives, your marketing will naturally gravitate toward the channels in which you have partners.
You may try to be channel-agnostic, but it won’t be possible because your partners will tip the scales in their favor, not to be deliberately deceptive but to serve their cause. Single-channel vendors want to help your business insofar as it helps themselves. They want to produce results for you, but their results will hinge on a central tenet: their channel is the answer. For example, an advertising agency will disproportionately recommend advertising solutions within your marketing mix because it has obvious benefit to them. That’s not to say their recommendations are invariably wrong, but that they’re invariably narrow-minded.
Your agency partners will even support their claims with metrics, but those numbers will be unhelpful, biased or misleading. A public relations agency might provide metrics that include media placements, media impressions and advertising equivalent value, but those numbers serve only to state the case for the public relations agency unless they’re tied to your business and overall marketing needs. In other words, if a major business goal of the previous quarter was to increase enterprise software installations, you should ask yourself if public relations, or whatever channels you’re using, contributed to those enterprise software installations. If you had no new installations, it doesn’t matter if you had a billion media impressions. Ultimately, your marketing should (almost) exclusively support your sales.
A channel-agnostic partner won’t inflate statistics or favor one tactic over others, because it doesn’t benefit them to do so. Your overall success benefits them. They’ll be able to provide objective, strategic counsel, and it’ll be in their best interest to do so. That’s not to say that single-vendor channel partners can’t be useful, but it does mean that your starting point should be holistic. Otherwise, you run the risk of being channel-dependent and inefficient.