Three words that became hard to say*

Every couple of months my mother informs me of an overused word or phrase that she thinks should die a slow, painful death. It is what it is. Whatever. Honestly. This past weekend she added Iconic to her blacklist. Most of the time I can’t say I disagree, though I then have to figure out a way to rid the word from my everyday vocabulary (they’re overused for a reason, right?).

Well today I’m unveiling my list, and it’s (currently) a list of one: Full-service agency.

When I worked at an events agency right after college the company billed itself as full-service. It was the first line of our elevator pitch, and everyone used to recite it with a trememndous sense of pride — like there was one full-service agency championship belt, and it was ours. Maybe back then it really was a point of differentiation, I’m not sure. What I do know is that I just googled ‘Full Service Agency’ and it took half a second to yield over 200 million results. So it very much appears that the championship belt has been cloned.

These days defining yourself as a full-service agency poses two problems. First of all, no one does everything. Not when technology and trends are changing the marketing, event and communication landscapes on a weekly basis. Second, everyone still wants anyone to think that they do everything. So now you have however many thousands of agencies looking to stand out, only to instead misrepresent themselves and at the same time join an oversaturated market (which is exactly what they were trying to avoid in the first place!).

Late last year we worked on a small press event that had four speciality agencies involved! Could we have done some of the work within our partners’ scopes? Sure, just like they could have done ours. Was the project better off with all parties bringing their respective expertise to the table? Without question. It was yet another clear reminder that the days of one-stop shopping are done.

So the solution is simple. Stop focusing on what you do, and instead hone in on what you do better than everyone else. Those are the agencies that are here to stay. One day they may even be Iconic.

*Anytime you have an opportunity to tie your blog post title into a great Avett Brothers song, you take it.