In-House Agencies in Flux Maybe not Always

Oh in-house agencies, we’re forever riding your carousel , and by “we”, I mean all the agencies out there.

From our 2023 New Year Outlook survey, unsurprisingly, agencies and marketers are not aligned.

We like the way this in-house trend is going!

In-House Agencies in Flux? Maybe not? Always?

Similar to last year’s report findings, overall, signs point towards marketers’ reliance on in-house teams waning — at least, according to agencies.

We initially asked agencies:

What percent of YOUR current clients have in-house agencies/do agency-like work in-house?

To provide some perspective, in 2021, 14% of agencies indicated that 51%+ of their clients brought agency work in-house, which rose slightly to 17% last year, and now in ‘23 drops to 13%.

But otherwise, agencies overall report less reliance by clients on in-house teams in 2022.

However, in a corresponding question, we asked marketers,

What percentage of your marketing/advertising activity is managed by an in-house marketing/advertising team?

Last year, 39% of marketers indicated that 51%+ of their marketing/advertising activity occurs in-house.

In 2022, it rose to 47%.

In-House Agencies in Flux? Maybe not? Always?

Here we go again

So we see agencies and marketers at odds here, with 13% of agencies reporting clients doing work in-house, but 47% of marketers reporting the same thing in 2022.

And when we asked agencies, “Looking ahead to 2023, do you see your clients moving more or less marketing agency-like work in-house?”,  66% of agencies expect either no change or a reduction in the amount of work being managed by their clients in-house.

Last year’s report saw that number at 77%.

Be prepared

The need to co-exist and work with in-house groups continues to be important, but more than ever in 2023, being proactive with your clients, having an organic growth plan, and making them aware of all the things you can do for them are key.

And from a Mediapost article that mentioned our report (Bringing Agency Work In-House: Best Practices For Tough Times):

The swings between acceleration and slowdown of in-housing leaves the function with an unsettled role. We know that industry sentiment will ebb and flow. We know that getting an in-house agency off the ground is a complex process that takes time, thought and planning — whether the strategy is motivated by cost-savings or broader marketing transformation. We know that there are no one-size-fits all solutions.

Your agency mindset in 2023 should be to treat your clients like ongoing prospects, in terms of the value and thinking you can bring, along with your work.

The in-house carousel will continue, but you can at least control the way you structure your new business strategy to bring in more new clients.

Marketer’s Edge Interview With Pete Buscani: Restaurant Chains

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking restaurant chains and marketing with Pete Buscani , the EVP of Marketing at LaRosa’s Pizzeria.

If your agency pursues clients in the restaurant, restaurant chains, or franchise space, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: After serving our communities and its guests for 65+, LaRosa’s continues to be the leading pizzeria and Italian restaurant in the Greater Cincinnati area. We know a restaurant is only as good as the food it serves, and thousands of our Guests agree that LaRosa’s food simply can’t be beat.

LaRosa’s truly is your neighborhood pizzeria. Families in Ohio, Indiana, and Northern Kentucky have been enjoying LaRosa’s original recipe pizzas for generations, with many of them making LaRosa’s a weekly tradition. Of course you can choose from other LaRosa’s favorites like calzones, hoagies, pasta, and more.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Pete talks:

  • What he feels is key to maintaining a solid agency-client relationship.
  • What some of the toughest challenges he’s faced marketing the LaRosa’s brand to consumers and how he has overcome them.
  • Advice he would give to marketers thinking about bringing a new agency on board.
  • The degree to which LaRosa’s has had to adapt to changing consumer preferences over the 22 years Pete has been at the marketing helm.
  • What he did during the pandemic to keep sales strong and that he found useful continuing post-pandemic.
  • How his advertising experience (prior to joining LaRosa’s) has helped him.
  • And lastly, if an agency was trying to knock down his door and to win business, the advice he would give them.
Marketer’s Edge Interview With Kasey Moss: Sustainable Retail

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking sustainable retail with Kasey Moss, the Brand Director for Chomps.

If your agency pursues clients in the food retail or sustainable food space, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: Chomps is a better-for-you meat snack brand with products made from the highest-quality, sustainably sourced proteins and no hidden, harmful ingredients.

Chomps beef and venison are 100% grass-fed and finished, our turkey is free range, and all of our proteins are hormone free, antibiotic free, and humanely raised.

Chomps meat snacks never contain added sugar, artificial preservatives or colors, MSG or fillers and are free from the top 8 allergens.

Our mission is to inspire a healthier way of snacking by providing high-quality, protein-packed snacks with simple, real food ingredients. At Chomps, there are no compromises or cutting corners – our products are delicious and nutritious.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Kasey talks:

  • Advice for other marketers looking to build their social presence and better take advantage of the space.
  • How there are a lot of “good for you” brands that use philanthropy or other approaches to strengthen their perceived “purpose” in the market and among employees and how Chomps efforts have benefited their brand and company.
  • Why she has focused her marketing career on “good for you” foods. Prior to joining Chomps, Kasey spent 9 years working for Enjoy Life Foods.
  • How marketing products like Chomps differs from marketing a more mainstream food product. We discussed other things marketers need to be considerate of – other ways they need to think about how they message or market a brand like Chomps.
  • How they make certain that the equities that exist in the brand today aren’t compromised as they expand the brand in the future.
  • And of course, advice she has for marketers looking for a new marketing agency and advice for agencies looking to bust down her door and work with her.

A little bit about Kasey:

Seasoned, yet scrappy marketing professional with several years of experience of CPG brand building experience.

Extensive experience in brand marketing and a strategic leader with a focus on data and behavior-driven results and continuous brand growth across all consumer touch points resulting in omnichannel growth.

Digital fatigue-it’s a thing. 

Our inboxes are full to bursting and our eyes glaze over with ubiquitous digital ads. 

Forrester Consulting released a study based on insights from 158 business-to-business (B2B) marketing leaders in North America on analog versus digital touchpoints, and although not technically, directly related to your business development efforts, it’s critical you pay attention to the key takeaways. 

Kicking things off from a Business Wire summation: 

. . . the majority (80 percent) of respondents recognize that the pandemic has increased their reliance on digital touchpoints. Resulting from the overdependence on digital, 76 percent agree that engagement with digital tactics is dropping, while 78 percent of respondents report that analog touchpoints such as direct mail have seen a performance boost. 

 80% recognize the pandemic increased digital reliance 

This applies to your agency business development effort as well, although it was happening well before the pandemic. 

Sending an email is easy, versus making a phone call, for example.  

You click send and there’s no personal interaction. Fear of rejection is minimized. 

But the pandemic, as this study makes clear, and we can most certainly all agree on, has increased our digital dependence from a business development standpoint and increased your prospects’ digital fatigue.

It was understandable as the pandemic really kicked in, or at least many agencies told themselves that. 

You can’t reach anyone by phone, everyone’s working from home.

 I heard that a lot, and it was 100% not true, not after those first few months. 

We actually set more meetings by phone during the pandemic. 

 76 percent agree that engagement with digital tactics is dropping 

We’re awash in sales emails, and they’ve gotten progressively more ineffectual, ineffective, and voluminous. 

As a company, we’ve been fortunate in that our process has always involved multiple touchpoints across multiple channels: phone, email, social and physical mail. 

Another quote worth reading from the Business Wire summation: 

 Since the onset of the pandemic, businesses have significantly over-rotated on their use of digital engagement strategies to reach audiences. Unfortunately—but not unexpectedly—the reliance on digital channels alone has led to increasing levels of fatigue. The new engagement challenge for B2B marketers revolves around establishing authentic, personal relationships with audiences to counter this fatigue and forge connections that drive business value.

 The word “authentic” in the prospecting/outreach context has become patently overused, but the point still stands.  

Your outreach has to be personalized (to an extent at the top of the funnel) and personal in it’s messaging-meaning it doesn’t read like a bot or an ad, but rather that another human being wrote it.

78 percent of respondents report that analog touchpoints such as direct mail have seen a performance boost. 

 Here’s an example of a mailing piece we created and sent out to our agency prospects recently. 

Your Prospects Have Digital Fatigue

 This one was a little silly and a little different, with the message on the front, “Thinking of You”, meant to be a throwback to a greeting card. 

And so far it’s working. Although we’re in the early stages, we’ve seen it just in the amount of meetings I’ve set with agency principals.  

4 key takeaways I’ll leave with you as you look to increase new business amongst all the digital fatigue: 

  1. You don’t know what’s going to resonate with a prospect, so you have to give yourself every opportunity, by using multiple methods/channels in order to stand out 
  2. The study gets into the use of SaaS platforms to track and accompany your direct mail campaigns. While that’s great, that probably isn’t in the budget, and it doesn’t have to be. Simple QR codes will work, for example. 
  3. Email is still valid, but it’s all about the messaging. Most sales emails are not written well and are not informed.   
  4. It’s not about any one channel/method. Our tech stack is also critical to our performance, for example.

I’ll often send a simple letter on RSW letterhead, that I personally sign.  

It’s about mixing up what you’re doing, and most importantly, following up. 

The Top 3 Reasons It's Harder For Ad Agencies To Get New Business

In our last post ( Ad Agencies Are Finding New Business Harder To Drive in 2022) we talked the agency new business landscape-short version: it’s getting tougher.

Now let’s talk why it’s harder, what did agencies tell us in our latest report?

The Top 3 Reasons It’s Harder For Ad Agencies To Get New Business

1. It’s Harder to Break Through

55% of agencies told us the main reason it’s more difficult to obtain new business is that it’s harder to break through to prospects.

Interestingly that percentage dropped from 59% last year to 55% this year.

One would have thought the opposite would be true, given the 15+ point increase in agencies finding it harder to get new clients.

So agencies are actually finding it a bit easier to break through to prospects than last year-that’s good news.

Looking at the second-highest reason agencies gave, last year it was “prospects that went dark after a first meeting” at 32%; however, that’s not the second highest this year.

In fact, that came in fourth, at 27%!

So agencies are having a slightly easier time, or doing a better job, with prospects that go dark.

Both are good to see, but it doesn’t really jibe with that 15+ point increase in agencies finding it harder to get new clients.

The 2nd and 3rd highest reasons agencies gave for why it’s harder to obtain new business in this year’s survey do coincide with that increase and should give agencies pause.

2. Fewer Opportunities

In 2022, 39% of agencies said there are fewer opportunities out there.

In 2021 that number was 23%.

While not overly alarming, that’s a 16 point increase.

I’ll throw some tough love out here:

Are there fewer opportunities, or are you just not actively looking for them?

Another stat from this same question:

The percentage of agencies who say they have no process in place is 25% this year versus 5% last year.

With no process, it is, in fact, harder to find opportunities.

3. Can’t Find The Right Person

The third highest reason was, “can’t find the right person to drive the new business program” at 31%, whereas it was at 0% in 2021.

Agencies have always had trouble finding and keeping the right person to drive new business, but that’s quite an increase.

These stats paint a picture of agencies experiencing a fair amount of organic and existing growth, coupled with referrals throughout 2021.

To quote our 2021 Agency New Business Report, “the current influx of new business is not coming from actual business development on the part of agencies.”

And that looks to have played out for many agencies, who understand there needs to be a balance that includes some manageable form of outbound prospecting for new business.

Within this question was an “other” option, with the opportunity to provide open-ended responses.

Given the variety of responses, we wanted to give you a sample from your agency peers as to why it was harder for them to obtain new business:

• Hard to find prospects with significant budgets
• For pitches, Clients are still hiding behind video conference
• Uncertain we are targeting “right fit” prospects and/or it’s harder than ever to break
through to them if they are right fit.
• Hard to hire people necessary to build bandwidth to take on new clients
• We’re more sharply focused on ideal client prospects and that takes more time right
now to break through.
• Turnover and inexperience on the client side
• Economic uncertainty/headwinds

Those are your top 3 reasons it’s harder for ad agencies to get new business.

More posts to come from our report.

Ad Agencies Are Finding New Business Harder To Drive in 2022

Ad Agencies Are Finding New Business Harder To Drive in 2022, and you can look into the reasons why in our latest RSW/US report.

Download it now at no cost: RSW/US 2022 Agency New Business Report: Perspective On The Agency New Business Environment.

(And you can read the Adweek feature on it here: Obtaining New Business Is More Difficult for Agencies, Report Finds)

Our first question to ad agencies:

How Difficult Is Obtaining New Business, Compared to Last Year?

After an unprecedented 2021 survey report, where only 28% of agencies reported obtaining new business (compared to the previous year) as harder or a lot harder, this year we see the cyclical nature of the ad industry rear its head again.

In 2022, 43% of agencies report that obtaining new business (compared to the previous year) is harder or a lot harder than it was in 2021.

Ad Agencies Are Finding New Business Harder To Drive in 2022

Looking at the responses from this question dating back to 2008, 2021 was a high point for many agencies, with only 28% saying it was harder to obtain new business that year.

Following the lockdown, budget freezes, and the overall extreme uncertainty of 2020, agencies needed that respite–and thankfully many firms got it.

But as you’ll see in our report, business is inevitably becoming harder to acquire again in 2022.

Looking at the data from another angle, only 17% of agencies said it was easier or a lot easier to obtain new business in 2022, versus 38% in 2021.

And in a follow-up question, “Relative to last year, have you seen the number of opportunities for new business decrease, increase, or remain the same?”, we saw that-

32% of agencies said the number of opportunities for new business increased, versus 51% last year.

As if agencies weren’t already exhausted from managing the pandemic and workforce disruption, the remainder of ‘22 and ‘23, with inflation and recession concerns, reaffirms
the need for agencies to make sure they have an actual new business strategy in place.

We’ll have a series of  posts on our report, covering each major stat, and what it means for new business moving forward.

Marketer’s Edge Interview With Renee McIntyre: Property Management Services

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking property management services, multifamily real estate, localized marketing, and multi-location property management with Renee McIntyre, Director of Sales and Marketing at Scully Company.

If your agency pursues clients in real estate, and specifically property management services, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: Scully Company specializes in multifamily real estate in both ownership and management capacities, currently managing over 7,000 units consisting of large-scale garden, mid-rise and high-rise apartment communities for institutions, private investors and our own portfolio.

Scully Company manages properties in Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Operating in diverse locations with a keen focus on strategies specific to local markets, Scully Company has achieved recognition as a leader in the multifamily industry.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Renee talks:

  • The degree to which technology plays a role in the overall management and maintenance of properties or in the overall management of Renee’s marketing activities
  • How Renee differentiates Scully’s offering in the eye of the investor – whether it be an institution or a private investor or the consumer
  • The biggest challenges she faces as the director of marketing and sales for this multi-location property management group.
  • How she addresses the need to localize marketing for each property yet still maintaining efficiencies in her overall spend.
  • Any advice Renee would give to marketers thinking about bringing a new agency on board
  • And lastly, if an agency was trying to knock down Renee’s door and attempting to win business from her, what advice she would give them.

A little bit about Renee:
As Director of Sales and Marketing, Renee McIntyre leads development of all real estate sales and marketing strategies for Scully Company, along with each of the individual brands within our portfolio.

A true team player, Renee lives her life by the motto “how you do anything, is how you do everything”. She strategically aligns every project with the company’s overall mission while overseeing portfolio occupancy and developing supplemental strategies to maximize revenue.

During her 12 minutes of spare time each year, Renee loves unwinding with a fine glass of wine, crushing it at family game night and beating last years’ time at the Broad Street Run.

Renee is a Certified Training Facilitator for the National Apartment Association and has a Bachelor of Science in Tourism and Hospitality from Temple University in Philadelphia

Marketer’s Edge Interview With Scott Sanchez: Software Delivery Market

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking the software delivery market with Scott Sanchez, Chief Marketing Officer at Harness.

If your agency pursues clients in software delivery, cloud initiatives, or orchestration tools, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: Harness is a rapidly growing startup that is disrupting the software delivery market.

They are building an intelligent software delivery platform that enables engineers to deliver software faster, with higher quality, and with less effort. The Harness Software Delivery Platform includes Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, Feature Flags and Cloud Cost Management. The platform is designed to help companies accelerate their cloud initiatives as well as their adoption of containers and orchestration tools like Kubernetes and Amazon ECS.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Scott talks:

  • How AI plays a role in creating a better process for managing development of software.
  • Scott’s thoughts relative to what companies will be looking at 3-5 years out – whether or not companies are doomed for disaster if they don’t take the business of security and reliability seriously
  • The over-riding benefit that Harness brings to companies – a benefit that companies weren’t able to obtain prior to using Harness.
  • What developers are most often doing or using if they aren’t using a product like Harness.
  • Any advice Scott would give to marketers thinking about bringing a new agency on board
    And lastly, if an agency was trying to knock down Scott’s door and attempting to win business from him, what advice he would give them

A little bit about Scott:

Scott is a global marketing executive, growth advisor, and angel investor with a 25-year track record of creating and executing strategies that deliver results for growth-stage, VC-backed startups and Fortune 100s alike.

Prior to joining Harness as Chief Marketing Officer, Scott was Head of Cloud Native and Developer Marketing at Amazon Web Services (AWS), where he was responsible for leading the global marketing and growth efforts in a broad portfolio that spanned services across Containers, Serverless, and Developer Tools. Scott was part of the executive team that helped grow Metacloud to acquisition by Cisco, where he went on to build a global cloud marketing and growth function that helped create what has become a successful $15B+ software and subscription business.

Marketer’s Edge Interview With Michael Rauh: Banking Challenges

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking banking challenges with Michael Rauh, President & CEO of Chelsea Groton Bank.

If your agency pursues clients in the financial space, banking, or community banking, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: based in Groton, Connecticut, Chelsea Groton Bank is a mutually owned bank with 14 locations throughout New London County and a Loan Production Office in Hartford County. The Bank has over $1 billion in assets and serves businesses, individuals and families throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Michael talks:

  • What it means to be a “mutually owned community bank” and how that’s different from just being a bank or a credit union.
  • Technology and its role in banking today.
  • Chelsea University – a concept created to benefit customers and employees benefit from it.
  • Some of the top challenges facing banks today and the challenges anticipated as we look forward into the future.
  • Opportunities that Michael sees for banks the next 3-5 years out.
  • Advice he’d give to marketers looking for a new agency.
  • Advice to agencies he’d give if they were trying to knock down his door and win his business.

A little bit about Michael:

Michael has been the President & CEO of Chelsea Groton Bank for nearly 12 years.

Prior to Chelsea Groton, Michael spent 20 years at the Washington Trust Company and 5 years at Chaffee & Partners.

Michael graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in economics.

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You can also see our video series 3 Takeaways here. It’s our agency new business video series where we focus on one new business category and give you three takeaways to help improve your new business program.

If you’re looking for a more effective business development strategy, email me at lee@rswus.com. I would love to talk.

Or, if you’re not ready for that step, you can read about how our outsourced business development programs work here.

Ghosted After The First Prospect Meeting

Far too often, we see agencies build a solid connection with a productive first prospect meeting, and then… nothing.

For our three takeaways today, we have pointers to make sure you don’t get ghosted on the way to meeting number two.

And we have a bonus, a one-pager you can download with our three takeaways from this episode.

Download that here: Climbing the Prospect Follow-Up Hill

You’ve had that first prospect meeting, and ideally you’ve set the second meeting. 

But that doesn’t always happen, or it’s tentatively set, and maybe you’re getting ghosted. 

To ensure that second meeting happens, let’s get into how you can better your odds.

Your first takeaway:

Remind them why they took the first meeting with you.

If your prospect took 30 minutes of their time to meet with you, they have a need or they saw some sort of value in talking with you.

Your primary goal in that first meeting should be to determine why they decided to take the meeting.

Perhaps their current agency is underperforming.

Maybe they are interested in a strategy that aligns with your specific strengths.

In any case, your follow-up should help to re-establish their motivation for speaking to you in the first place.

OK, your second takeaway:

Provide insight on something discussed in the first meeting. 

After that first meeting, you should have some sense of the prospect’s pain-points and you should have some understanding of their past strategies.

As you prepare to follow-up with the prospect, find ways to offer valuable perspective around something you learned in that first meeting.

Show the prospect that you understand what they told you and demonstrate your resourcefulness.

And your third takeaway:

Share your experience solving problems like theirs.

Hopefully this is not the first time you’ve heard this.

Your follow-up should include examples of work you’ve done for clients in the same (or a similar) industry as the prospect’s.

This helps to alleviate any potential concerns the prospect may have about your ability to understand his/her business.

Your goal is to establish credibility, provide value, and show the prospect that you are eager to help achieve his/her goals.

Thanks for watching 3 Takeaways-lots of new business content our site to help you at rswus.com, just hit the resources drop down.