Like in past New Year Outlook survey reports, we asked for marketer comments about what they felt was most troubling trend they were seeing as it related to agencies.


These will just give you a flavor for where marketers’ heads are at – which hopefully can help you better manage how you deal with your marketing partners and how you develop new relationships going forward.

“They haven’t figured out how to be project based versus AOR based”

We’ve talked this in previous posts and we’ll be presenting it during this Wednesday’s webinar titled “How Far Do Agencies Need to Go to Survive“…but the bottom line is the world is changing and agencies do need to think about how they look at opportunities.

More marketers are pushing out more project work than ever before and it requires a different way of thinking.  In our webinar, we provide some advice so click on the link above to join in.

“With so many articles out there on how to do everything,
agency expertise isn’t as necessary”

This one is a bit frightening….and while I don’t believe this is a wide-spread belief, it does speak to the importance of pushing your agency to constantly bring value.

It also speaks to the importance of being good students of the industry so it’s you bringing the ideas and not your client learning about things you never knew.

“Not able to provide good, long-term strategic thinking”


Interestingly, this is something you (agencies) tell us about marketers…so someone’s got to give and it really should be you.  In our “8 Agency of the Future Infographic” we talk about being a “partner” and not a “player”.  Don’t be a doer agency…be an agency that is proactive in bringing smart, strategic thinking to the table.

“They make it all about digital/social engagement”

In this year’s New Year Outlook survey we found that once again, marketers are more enthusiastic about traditional media platforms than their agency counterparts. And agencies are more enthusiastic about things like mobile marketing.

I suspect this statement is a reflection of those results and suggests that all marketers are looking for, is a well integrated plan and not a plan that drives everything into the social and digital space.

“Lack of technical and data savvy teams on our accounts”

Just locked in on a search where the latest account management shift put a freshly minted college grad in place to manage this marketer’s account.  That move, coupled with the complaints about the lack of being data and reporting smarts is what ultimately what caused them to pick up the phone and call (that and reading our agency search newsletter).

Agencies have to either staff up with smart, technically savvy personnel, or find the partnered  resources to deliver on this growing marketer need.

“Faking Customization”

I found this one to be interesting.

I’ve seen this play out in a final pitch presentation – where an agency that was all-in on healthcare presented what felt like a plug-in-play campaign for this prospective client.  Client didn’t literally call it “fake customization”, but they might have as well had.  So recognize that it’s easy to see…both in presentations and in places like RFI and proposal responses.

So just a few of the many comments in our New Year Outlook report this year.

Don’t look at it negatively and defensively…look at it as a challenge.  A challenge on how you can better your agency to make marketers (who are feeling a bit squishy about marketing agencies) can look at you and see a real partner who isn’t just there to develop a new campaign, but a partner that can help them move their business forward.

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.