Agencies: Have you Checked Your Client Alignment Recently?


lego car

The quality of alignment between Agencies and their clients is a theme that resonates through the RSW/US 2016 New Year Outlook Survey.

Based on “troubling trends” that respondents from both the agency and marketing side of the industry offered, the quality of their alignment seems to be suffering.

Just one example of this appears in expectations for changes in media spending across channels in 2016 versus 2015.

We asked Marketers how they thought their marketing spending will change across various  media: traditional, digital, mobile and social.  We also asked Agencies how they expected their clients’ spending would change across these media.

It stood out that 34% of Marketers indicated they planned on increasing spending on traditional media either “somewhat” or “significantly”, while just 19% of Agencies responded the same way.

Media comparison


As this chart illustrates, an obvious disconnect exists in spending expectations across other media channels as well, with Agencies forecasting increases in digital, mobile and social that exceed Marketers’ stated plans by at least 10% points in each category.

Underneath this disparity are concerns Marketers identified when asked in the survey,   “What is the MOST TROUBLING TREND you’re seeing among marketing agencies today?”

Comments that relate to the observed media disparity include Marketers citing:

  • Shifting too hard away from traditional; it still has a role in building brand awareness
  • Over-emphasis on new/non-traditional media
  • Sacrificing creativity for technology
  • Ineffectiveness integrating across channels
  • Too much distraction over what’s new


Certainly, it’s conceivable that Agency forecasts are realistic, but even if that is the case, the survey output exhibits that Agencies and Clients are not in alignment at a strategic level.

When your car is out of alignment, it affects the vehicle’s performance:

  • Reduced energy efficiency
  • More strain on the vehicle
  • Higher costs for tires, brakes and other equipment


Misalignment in the agency/client relationship hampers brand performance, can increase costs and put wear and tear on the strategic implementation process.

A cohesive, collaborative, well-aligned relationship takes at least two parties.  However, if you and your client(s) seem to be out of sync on important strategic matters, DO take the lead.

Beyond the annual strategic plan process, be sure to schedule “tune-ups” at regular intervals with your clients.

Make certain strategy is on target and that objectives are being achieved throughout the year.

When you notice anything out of alignment, get to the underlying dynamics, whether it’s economic, industry or competitive changes, or something else entirely.

Take the lead on correcting the plan to insure your clients reach their objectives.

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.