Marketing Services Are Smart in Bucking the 'Unbundling' Trend

While TV providers are moving toward a model where customers can pay for individual services, communications is going in the other direction.

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By Derek Newton

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Entrepreneurs and investors have been spending a great deal of time and money creating, spotting and funding unbundling – the breaking apart of services into their component parts. Cable TV, which increasing offered online through individual channels instead of as a cable TV package, is a prime example.

Companies that promise to unbundle services, or entire industries, are winning backers and customers. And people are lining up to attempt to unbundle things such as asset management, banking, colleges and apps.

But something different is happening in the marketing and customer service sectors – and investors, business leaders and especially those interested in public relations should be paying attention.

Related: 4 Requirements for Self-Serve Media Relations

The push to outsource or use software-as-service (SaaS) solutions to address these customer-facing business needs is creating bundling as online service providers can offer a variety of efficient services in one place.

One great example is Tango Card which has creatively bundled e-gift card services for some of the world's leading ecommerce and retail outlets, like, Starbucks, iTunes and many more. Tango Card pitches its service to businesses as an innovative one-stop customer loyalty and employee engagement incentive partner. Instead of going to each retailer separately to negotiate rewards and buy inventory, Tango Card has done it for you.

That's classic bundling. All you need in one place with less hassle.

Related: 9 Marketing Mistakes That Cost Your Business Money

And big businesses are starting to notice as tax titan H&R Block just inked a major incentive deal with Tango Card – providing their customers not just with the variety of e-gift cards on which to spend their tax refund, but also a 10-percent bonus on e-gift cards. Using a bundled system like that to offer more choice in a standard rewards program makes sense by itself. But when you add good marketing to the mix, it makes real sense for companies like Block.

"Companies everywhere are building new ways to incentivize employees and customers. The end-to-end reward experience has to elevate the quality of the overall program," says David Leeds, CEO and founder of Tango Card. "We curate an international catalog of e-gift cards and donations and provide support from launch to delivery – ensuring that each reward recipient has the best experience possible. This set of services and support allows our customers to execute well on a strategic aspect of their business that is rarely their core competency."

Related: The Psychological Trigger That's Confusing Your Customers

Another example of bundled services in marketing and customer relations is Meltwater. Meltwater has bundled many of the traditional media tracking and outreach services which used to be done in-house or through several outside companies and consultants. Through one online portal, Meltwater combines media tracking, media lists of reporters, editors and producers and the ability to send press releases and news alerts. It can also post news clips directly to your website through a newsfeed.

Again, that's pure bundling.

At our organization, we use Meltwater because it makes sense. I can now do in a few hours what used to take a full communications staff days to do. Even longer if you count the initial investments in building the lists and systems. Not having to build or maintain the infrastructure is the real value in using SaaS and other bundled solutions to public and customer relations.

Naturally, an in-house, human element will remain essential in dealing with your customers and the public. But the more things any business can do in one place – services which provide and add value – the better. And the more companies that do that will grow.

If I were starting a new business today – one that put a premium on reaching, engaging and rewarding the public and my customers, I'd make it an early priority to find bundled providers like Tango Card and Meltwater before I spent a dime building a program of my own. That's textbook wheel redesign and no one -- especially an entrepreneur -- has time for that.

Related: The 'Social Media Guide' to Crafting Your Ideal Business Pitch

Derek Newton

NYC based communications and public relations professional

Derek Newton is a communications expert and writer based in New York City. He has been working in nonprofit, political and policy communications for more than 20 years and helped launch several startups. 

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