Why we pivoted from an agency to a consultancy, and what’s the difference?

Insights | 08/02/2022 | Written by Simon Douglass

In 2014, frustrated that brands did not fully understand digital marketing or were not getting great digital marketing strategy from their chosen agencies, Simon Douglass formed Curated Digital.

For five years Curated operated as an agency with the aim of bringing digital marketing channels such as SEO, PPC, content & social together to focus on commercial goals

In early 2020 Curated pivoted the business from agency to consultancy. 

Simon felt that agencies were operating in an overly commoditized space with a primary focus on delivery. This, in contrast to consultancies who were more focused on strategy.

Since the vastly experienced Curated team had grown up with channel delivery, it left the business well positioned to move more towards a consultancy model.

And so Curated became a consultancy – A consultancy that delivers.

Here are three reasons why we’re different, and why you might love working with us…

1. We focus on business goals

Curated has always focused on business goals, but we are even clearer now. We have enough experience to know the difference between a good brief and a bad brief.

To illustrate this — a bad brief for us would be a brand who approaches us with questions such as ‘can you run our PPC campaign’ or ‘can you make us rank #1 on Google?’

Yes, we can do these things but these are short term tactics. They will undoubtedly have some affiliation with the wider business goals, but it’s those goals that should come first. 

Ultimately, the business goals inform the tactics.

On the flip side, a good brief is a brand asking questions such as ‘how do we better understand our customers, and what they want to buy?’, or ‘we want to drive 100 sales qualified leads a month’. 

From here, Curated can use research combined with years of channel experience to deliver against that brief and hit the goals.

Curated’s consultancy position means that we’re better positioned to challenge brands, and their briefs as opposed to a more prescriptive brand-agency relationship. We lead the strategy, as experts.

 

 

 

 

2. We were operating in an over-commoditized space

The agency space is huge, ranging from the big, well-known agency groups, all the way down to two people working from their kitchen table who learned how to set up PPC campaigns from a series of YouTube videos.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with either of those, or all the agencies in the middle but the point is that it’s a messy (and oft mistrusted) space, and one which we no longer wanted to be a part of, or compete in.

Curated works in a very different way to a typical agency, with much more focus on the thinking (data, insight, customer profiling) than the delivery. We still do the delivery, but the good stuff precedes it.
And we want to be seen as different to a typical agency because we ARE different.

Instead, we build products, frameworks and processes that enable brands to achieve the commercial growth they desire.

 

 

 

 

3. We add more value as consultants (as more brands start to “in-house” their channel activities)

Over time, Curated has added considerably more value by acting as a support or conduit to brands that work with us.

Historically, we would build lengthy pitch decks on how we work, outlining what we would do before we had really engaged with the brand or understanding the wider context: where do their problems lie? Where are the opportunities? Where are the catalysts for growth?

We placed ourselves into an uncompromising position. We:

  1. had signed up to do work, which wasn’t right for the business.
  2. would be forced into either running the account to the best of our ability, in the knowledge that the brand needed a holistic approach hit their results
  3. Would be delivering a complete digital marketing strategy for free to help them achieve the results they wanted. 

We decided that this wasn’t a sustainable business model for us.

By way of example, historically we have won work where we run a PPC account and make daily changes as part of delivery without time for initial auditing or research. This, in contrast to how we work now where we explicitly set aside time for discovery, auditing & strategy development to accompany the marginal gain work on the accounts.

Now we are set up to work with brands in several ways. We can:

  1. deliver the strategy
  2. pass the strategy into internal teams
  3. consult, train and/or second consultants into the business

By pivoting to a consultancy model, Curated offers a real point of difference

 

 

We provide more value to clients by delivering upon well researched strategies. We are able to truly focus on business goals by providing full strategies that focus on these goals, rather than blindly executing what we are told. We have also future proofed our business model against commoditisation and brand in-housing. 

Fundamentally we have set ourselves up to ride the trends breaking out in the digital space. With this mindset and ideology, we are able to navigate these dynamics for our brand partners too, whilst driving commercial success.

Do you agree? Are you frustrated that your agency’s work is misaligned with your business goals? Then get in touch with Curated’s Founder and Chairman, Simon at simon@curated-digital.com

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