I predicted a bumper year for financial PR agencies in 2014 and we saw some high profile IPOs and large mergers delivering big fees for our friends in the City. We are now seeing the drivers behind these deals filtering into the marketing sector.
As money remains cheap and agencies have had a good few years to build up their balance sheets, I think 2015 will be the year of consolidation in the marketing industry.
Big agencies will seek to future proof revenues through technology focused acquisitions and sector specific teams. We will also see the mid-tier agencies seek to bolster their competencies and scale quickly to take advantage of the continued growth.
In Yorkshire we’ve seen traditional printing businesses expand into marketing services with the acquisition of digital agencies. Digital agencies will also position themselves as content agencies with the acquisition of PR and video teams.
The consulting arms of the larger accountancy and advisory firms will accelerate their interest in the digital marketing sector. I can see this expanding into brand strategy, design and PR as ‘reputation’ management and brand value is a natural space for C-suite conversations.
For smaller agencies looking to get a piece of this action, it is important to clearly position yourself in the market around a particular competence or sector expertise. The regional market usually breeds generalists but this is no way to attract a buyer and justify a big multiple on your earnings.
If you are planning an exit it is important to start now and work toward a long term goal. Build a reputation of super competence in a niche. Remember, rarity has value.
Director, Campfire PR