Clients are frustrated with agencies that claim full-service capabilities but lack expertise, found a recent report from RSW/US.
Respondents also found it troubling that their agency partners seem to be trading creativity for technology and lack an in-depth understanding of their brand and industry.
RSW/US's Outlook Report, which is in its 10th year of publication, highlights how marketers' attitudes toward agencies are changing and what agencies can do to capitalize on upcoming opportunities.
"For the first time since 2009, more marketers report using two or more agencies than in prior years," saidLee McKnight, RSW/US's vice president of sales. "In terms of agency new business, that means 2016 (ideally) presents even better opportunities to get in the door with prospects. There's always that objection hurdle of 'we already have an agency,' but with more marketers potentially using multiple agencies in the coming year, that objection becomes less of a hurdle, even potentially advantageous."
As you create your new business plan and determine your success metrics for the year, consider how some of the most interesting data points from the survey might impact your approach:
1) Expert knowledge of analytics and being able to extract insights from the client's data will be important in the agency selection process.
More than 73% of respondents said that analytics capabilities will be an important factor when choosing an agency partner.
CMOs are looking for partners who understand how to connect all their data sources -- from their CRM to email to social to their marketing platform -- and be able to use this information to create more targeted, personalized messaging. They also want to be able to connect digital metrics to business metrics -- sales, retention, etc. This is the only way they can 1) meet their own goals internally, and 2) gain a larger share of the budget.
Consider ongoing training and certifications for your agency staff members: PR 20/20 requires that every new team member become Inbound Certified and pass the Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam. Even if the employee doesn't directly deal with analytics on a daily basis, it is important that every person on your team is able to understand the importance of tracking, reporting, and optimization of client campaigns.
2) Marketers remain invested in traditional media, while agencies ignore the medium.
34% of marketers expect to increase traditional media spending in the next year, but agencies are only anticipating digital media tactics to be in demand.
This may make sense as traditional TV advertising remains a strong competitor against digital when measuring ad spend.
In the survey, many marketers expressed that they felt agencies were simply defaulting to digital, rather than exploring all the possibilities.
3) Marketers have a lot of agency options, and they are piecing work out to more and more partners.
RSW/US found that 74% of marketers report having more than two agencies, and 17% use more than five partners.
This upholds the idea that agencies need to be specialized to stand out and to attract work from beyond their geographic region. Those that deliver and are known for a specific service, marketing to a particular audience, having a unique process or knowledge of technology, etc., will find more work in an age where brands are building a roster of experts.
This also means that agencies need to become better collaborators with other agency partners. Being the partner that makes it easier for the client to better manage multiple relationships will help you stand out.
4) Marketers are turning to project-based relationships.
We've long heard about the decline of the AOR relationship, and this survey shows the trend continues. In fact, the survey found that 40% of marketers anticipate the amount of project work will increase in 2016. This should be a signal that your agency needs to improve upon its project scoping and management practices. Making project work profitable requires your firm to be proactive about qualifying clients and projects -- you don't want to take on work that will only drain your agency's resources. And you need to reconsider your processes for completing projects, which may including moving to a more Agile project management style or implementing different tools for better workflows.
However, there is another way to think about this.
Experian found that of the top priorities of digital marketing leaders:
- 43% want to translate a deep knowledge of our customers into relevant interactions
- 36% want to integrate technology to automate, orchestrate, and manage customer interactions
- 29% want to collect, link, and manage data
There could be education opportunities for marketers on how to achieve these priorities through marketing automation, CRM, and closed-loop reporting.
What do you think will define the new business landscape in 2016? Let us know in the comment below.