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Book Review: The Marketing Agency Blueprint

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If you’re in marketing, public relations, advertising, or a web design shop, Paul Roetzer’s The Marketing Agency Blueprint: The Handbook for Building Hybrid PR, SEO, Content, Advertising, and Web Firms is groundbreaking. Roetzer’s book teaches agencies an entirely new way to play the game. The agencies that are able to emulate his approach will change that game, while agencies unable or unwilling to adapt will lose more and more business to their competition, as more and more clients ask “Why hire separate traditional PR and digital marketing agencies when I can hire a hybrid marketing agency that does both seamlessly?”

I myself run a hybrid marketing agency based in Manila, and I started re-inventing Roetzer’s wheel about a year before his book was released, for a similar reason that he embarked on this path eight years ago. Paul came to the conclusion after years of agency work that the traditional agency model of advertising, marketing, and PR was broken. I didn’t think about it in those terms back then (although I do now); at the time I just thought I came up with a better way to do it. While I had worked out many of the principles he outlines regarding service offerings, that’s only a fraction of the wisdom he serves up in The Marketing Agency Blueprint.

One thing I dislike about many management books (and that’s what this is: a book about how to build and manage a hybrid agency) is that they are heavy on the theory and insight, and light on practical, actionable information. Many books tell you how to approach a problem, give you a new way of thinking about various issues, or cite case study after case study of businesses and managers who had great ideas that worked for them. Paul Roetzer’s book is nothing if not practical.

In this book, Roetzer explains why the traditional agency service and billing model is broken, and how to hack that model to establish a system that rewards your agency for efficiency instead of penalizing clients for inefficiency, by doing something radical: eliminating billable hours by moving to standardized services and set pricing (a.k.a. service productization). And it works. My experience with my own agency (which does not bill by the hour) validates Roetzer’s argument. It is a granular look at revenue targets, and includes formulas that will tell you exactly how much you must charge in order to meet those targets.

It goes on to outline a comprehensive blueprint for taking your agency hybrid, tells you what kind of talent to attract and develop, and dives deep into scalability: Roetzer covers the realities of costs, funding, and cash flow, and gives concrete advice on project management and how to utilize technology to make internal operations management, internal communications and client project management simpler and more efficient.

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And that’s just the first half of the book.

The second half dives into inbound marketing, how to recognize where prospects are in the sales funnel and effectively convert them (when they’re ready), how to harness analytics, and so much more. There is also website supporting the the book called Marketing Agency Insider.

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