In our New Year Outlook Survey, we asked marketers and agencies about challenges for 2018.

Two articles resonated with me on the topic, and I think will with you as well.

But first, several comments agencies offered when asked what they believe will prove to be the biggest challenge they will face in 2018:

“Confusing positioning and marketplace crowding”

“The enormous surplus of digital agencies we’ve got to compete with”

“Finding quality talent across all departments”

“Tighter margins”

“Change of technology”

“Remaining relevant in an increasingly digital world”

“Measuring results”

“Finding sales people”

Couple these challenges with what your prospects are concerned about: Mars marketing chief: ‘It’s probably never been a more challenging and disruptive time to be a marketer’.

The article doesn’t go deep, but it certainly encapsulates the agency new business environment today, kicking off with the following paragraph:

Marketers are currently experiencing one of their toughest environments ever because of the multiple options for communicating with consumers, according to the chief marketing and customer officer at candy and petcare business Mars.

So you, as an agency are well aware of the challenges, and your prospects/counterparts are right in line on those challenges.

Let’s look at a few comments marketers offered when asked what they believe will prove to be the biggest challenge for marketing agencies in 2018:

(All are written as posted by respondents.)

“Knowing your audience and providing measurable results to justify our investment”

“Retaining talent”

“Ability to demonstrate ROI from a multi-channel marketing effort”

“Clearly differentiating their message. Often there is nothing to indicate why their firm is different”

“Non-confidence in traditional marketing vehicles and over-confidence in digital marketing and social media”

“Keeping up with the fast pace of changing technology and the costs associated with it”

(As a side note, we offer a full listing of comments made by marketers and agencies in the final pages of our report)

Couple what your marketing prospects said above with the following article, Agencies baulk as P&G plans to cut another 50% from its roster and bring more media capabilities in-house, which starts out this way:

Procter & Gamble will cut its agency roster by 50% by the close of 2018, the latest act in a four-year cull witnessing some 4,700 firms axed from its books. For some agencies, this is par for the course in an era defined by austerity, but others are now worrying that P&G is cutting to the bone, not just trimming fat.

Certainly sobering, and I realize may not affect you directly, but it’s indicative of the climate.

What’s interesting, and heartening, is marketers and agencies, at least in our survey responses, have never been as aligned as they are going into this year.

But it’s also a wake-up call: however you go about it, the rise of in-house agencies, the search for specialization, and continuing competition (to name just three factors) means you have to actively seek out new business, regardless of how well your agency is doing.

And the first place for you to start? Your positioning.

It’s the first place we start when a new client comes on board, because without a concise, differentiating statement of who you are, you immediately fall into this prospect bucket: Confusing positioning and marketplace crowding”.



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Lee McKnight Jr
VP of Sales
I'm the VP of Sales at RSW/US. We specialize in working with services firms to help drive and close new business-if you need help with that, email me at What I actually do: drive sales efforts to bring ad agencies and services firms on board with RSW, create content around successful new business tactics and help drive RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. Dig it.