With super-niche expert vendors for every marketing discipline, companies are using all-star teams instead of the old agency of record (AOR) model. The AOR generally left room for just a few third-party specialists (media planning, seo, video production, etc) to provide services that big brand agencies didn’t.

Social media marketing (and a big recession) was tip of the spear that largely blew apart the AOR model. Advertising and pr agencies struggled to do social effectively or efficiently – they shoehorned in existing staff regardless of knowledge, with a not surprising lack of results. With expert firms focusing solely on social, companies could access real category experts that analyzed trending content, utilized social platforms correctly, drove accountable ROI.

As digital strategies began driving brand marketing, consultants and hyper specialists innovated and flourished in the digital niche products and services – gamification, platform development, social & mobile, UX, programmatic SEM, ad monetization strategies.

The playing surface leveled and the SMB owners and entrepreneurs – who were told less than 10 years by major agencies “You can’t afford us”– now get better expertise and results on fair budget, and the ability to compete in global markets with their larger competitors.

Niche marketing specialization has opened up access to marketing based on talent, regardless of size. Meanwhile, SMB owners and business entrepreneurs have hit the lottery with the shift to hyper specialization, getting what their businesses requires for growth:

  1. Expert knowledge within any given marketing area
  2. Collaboration with experienced leadership
  3. Responsiveness and accountability
  4. Reduction of staff layers and cost
  5. Ease of communications
  6. And … flexibility: to make vendor changes quickly when a marketer doesn’t provide #1-5

As I speak with large clients from television networks to financial institutions, once resistant to working with small marketers, they are now advocating the niche-marketing model. Innovation and expertise trumps big-agency brand names every day, and those companies that understand the value of small, nimble teams of marketing specialists will be better positioned to succeed.


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