When Times Are Good…They Can Look Good


“We’re Starting The Year Out With A Lot of New Business, So I Think All Is Good.”

Something I have heard from agencies more this January than in month’s past.  And while this is great, agencies need to think beyond what is today and plan for tomorrow – on two fronts:

  • Investment in their business
  • Investment in the future of the business

I started RSW/US 11 years ago, in 2005, at a time when the market and industry were relatively good.

In 2008 we witnessed an upheaval of the industry and the economy.

As we rolled out of it and as marketers told us in our surveys they would be spending more and we saw evidence of it, agencies continued to invest.

In our just released 2017 New Year Outlook Survey Report, 87% of marketers said they would be investing either “somewhat” or “heavily” in their business and 67% stated they would either be investing “somewhat” or “heavily” in advertising and marketing.

This compares to 44% in 2011, when we were just coming out of the recession.
Agency New Business Hope

Agencies appear enthusiastic…but how does it compare?

89% of agencies state they will be investing “somewhat” or “heavily” in their business (technology, personnel, new business)…which all sounds good.

But when you compare it to the three years preceding, we see a steady decline among agencies in the future of their organizations.

Agencies Stating They Plan to Invest

“Somewhat” or “Heavily” in Their Business

  • 2014 – 96%
  • 2015 – 95%
  • 2016 – 93%
  • 2017 – 89%

Agencies: Just Like Having a Baby…There’s Never an Ideal Time

As more marketers are demanding more from their agencies and as more marketers are consolidating the number of agencies they are carrying – two trends we are also seeing in our reports, agencies need to be thinking about the future of their firm.

In our survey, we’re seeing the CIO have greater influence.  We’re seeing more project work parsed out as a way of “trying” agencies.  We’re seeing more work moved in-house.

Investing in technology, being smart about data & analytics, looking forward and recognizing that what is good today, might not be so good tomorrow…are all things agencies need to keep their hands wrapped around.

Just because you’re in a lot of pitches and getting some good project work flow now, doesn’t mean this will continue.

There’s never a good time to invest – in your agency and the future of your agency’s new business.

But advice from a guy who has lived this industry on both sides for the last 11 years (as a search consultant and a keeper of our agencies’ new business efforts as their outsources agency new business firm), don’t take your foot off the new business and investment pedal just because your burning a lot of gas now.

Marketers will continue to demand more.

And one day, not too soon, all those pitches and new business leads are sure to slow down.

Author: Mark Sneider

Mark is a 30-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark started his career at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to earning his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Prior to starting RSW/US in 2005, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson and KAO Brands. Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences domestically and internationally including the 4A’s, Magnet, NAMA, TAAN, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes. When not working (which often seems like not often), Mark likes to run miles, go to church, and just chill with a hard copy issue of Fast Company.