Where Should Your Agency Focus Your New Biz Efforts In 2020?
This week RSW/US released its New Year Outlook 2020 Survey Report and based on the content, I think smaller, independent and/or specialist agencies will need to step up their new biz efforts and learn to Sell Greatly this year or get left behind. Let’s talk about why.
According to the RSW/US report, companies that used to carry 5-6 agencies or more are finding it difficult to manage all of those agencies. Let’s face it, we agencies don’t make it easy. Far too often, agencies spend a lot of time simply jockeying for the “pole position” which leads to them not playing nice together.
So our clients have to manage all of that while keeping an eye on the integrity of their brand and creating campaigns that will move the needle so they can stay employed.
Being A Specialist Agency Isn’t Special Anymore
After spiking in 2017, clients’ interest in bringing in specialist agencies for digital, social or content marketing, has waned. Maybe it’s because more and more AOR agencies have finally caught up to the specialists in terms of offering those services in-house or some other reason. But the drop is not a blip but a well defined trend at this point.
One notable exception, though not specifically called out in the report, could be data and analytics. 59% of surveyed clients noted that specific capability as highly desirable in an agency partner.
Thus, if a client is working with an AOR agency that isn’t strong in data and analytics, there might still be an opportunity for a data/analytics shop to stay on the client roster OR even partner with the AOR.
In fact, RSW/US noted in the report that “we’re seeing specialty agencies establishing profitable and productive relationships with more full-on agencies, operating as a contractor to help deliver holistically on the needs of their marketing clients.”
How Can Your Agency Drive More New Business?
Well isn’t that the $64,000 question. Here again, the RSW/US report provides good indicators that strongly suggest every agency will need a successful content marketing program in 2020.
When asked to look ahead and gauge the importance of various biz dev efforts, agencies felt it was going to be more important to:
71% said “to come to meetings with insights about a prospect’s industry or company”
60% said “to push out value-added, thought leadership content”
69% said “to own a unique positioning for the their agency”
Content marketing is the answer to all three needs. Obviously it’s how you push out “thought leadership content” but also, when you push out that content you create a positioning for your agency. And lastly, if your agency is constantly creating new content, you’re sure to discover or create a few really compelling insights about your prospects’ industries or companies.
Although most marketers have adopted some form of martech at this point, new research shows that many are still just beginning to test the waters in terms of familiarizing themselves with martech platforms.
RSW/US recently conducted the “2019 Marketing Technology Survey Report,” and the majority of marketers (58%) said that while they are reasonably well-versed in terms of martech platforms, they believe that they could know more. Twenty-four percent said that they’re still trying to figure them out, while only nine percent claimed that they are on top of them.
About 46% of marketers say that there are simply too many offerings in the martech space, making it challenging. Nearly 55% claim that they don’t have the time to read up on martech platforms, and 45% find many of them to be too expensive.
Many Marketers Still Working on Integrating Martech
As it turns out, many marketers are still working on implementing martech into their strategies, according to previous research.
Ascend2 recently conducted the “Marketing Technology Trends Survey,” and statistics showed that the majority of marketers (63%) are still “working on it” when it comes to implementing martech. Furthermore, most respondents (58%) have only been “somewhat successful” at achieving their top priorities with their martech strategy.
About 52% of marketers say that integrating disparate systems is their biggest challenge. This is followed by attributing revenue to marketing (47%) and increasing marketing ROI (36%).
Agencies and marketers find common ground—and challenges—in MarTech
As in many industries, Martech seems to be moving faster than marketers’ ability to stay on top of the advancements. In fact, many comms pros are just starting to figure it all out—or feel they’re being altogether left behind. In its first-ever Marketing Technology Survey Report, marketing-focused lead generation and biz-dev firm RSW/US confirms these challenges—but also reveals Martech’s great opportunities.
RSW/US President Mark Sneider attended this year’s MarTech West conference in San Jose and was impressed with the energy, new ideas, and new platforms that permeated the conference. He and his team saw the explosion in the space, and also heard agency clients and marketing prospects grappling with it as they tried to stay ahead. Case in point: Chiefmartech’s famous Technology Landscape Supergraphic, which in 2011 had 150 Marketing Technology firms, and in 2019 now numbers 7,040.
In previous years, RSW released its Agency New Business Tools report, surveying agencies, PR firms and marketing services firms on the tools and platforms they found most useful to their new business efforts. While well-received, the team at RSW continued to see a lack of meaningful innovation and progress in the tools available—i.e., more of the same.
16 Agency Business Development Tools You Need to Thrive in 2019
And as Mark Kelly points out on Smart Insights, the ultra-competitive nature of the modern agency landscape means that you can’t ignore new business development. When you’re competing against not just your local agencies but shops sitting halfway across the world (who can undercut you on price), you have to be proactive in your search for new business.
To make new business easier, you need agency business development tools. There has been a steady rise in the number of agencies using such tools. For instance, an RSW/US survey found that the percentage of agency execs using list building software increased from 45% in 2015 to 69% in 2018.
More than half (52%) of both marketers and marketing agencies are expecting to see marketing spend increase somewhat or significantly in 2019. But for marketers, this percentage is lower than last year’s 60%, according to recent survey data [download page] from RSW/US.
It may be due to this slight decrease in marketers’ confidence regarding spending – among other factors – that agencies increasingly believe that winning new business will become more difficult. More than half (56%) of the 115 US and Canadian agencies executive surveyed said they believe that generating new business will be either somewhat or a lot harder in 2019 than it was in 2018. This is the lowest confidence in winning new business agencies this decade (looking at bi-annual reports).
Meanwhile, LinkedIn ranks as the top social media platform used by U.S. ad agencies for marketing purposes, as it’s used by 89% of 300 marketing and advertising agency executives surveyed earlier this year for the RSW/US-Mirren New Business Tools Report 2018. Facebook and Twitter will be used by 78% and 75%, respectively.
How Many Marketers Use Snapchat and Instagram in the US?
Another factor driving strong marketer usage of Instagram is its close ties with Facebook, particularly when it comes to advertising. When making an ad buy on Facebook, marketers can simply check a box to add Instagram feed ads or Stories ads as additional placements.
In a March 2018 survey of 300 US senior agency executives by RSW/US and Mirren, 66% of those polled said they use Instagram, and 36% said they use Snapchat.
With Procter & Gamble, Unilever and United Airlines joining the growing list of companies leaving agencies to fold marketing functions in-house, voices all across the agency world have wondered aloud: What gives?
3 Ways to Steer the Right Creative Talent Toward Your Business
In fact, a 2017 survey conducted by RSW/US revealed that traditional agencies are seeing fewer client referrals than ever before, which Adweek attributes to an increase in brands forming their own in-house teams. For highly qualified creatives, this transition in agency structure provides an abundance of opportunities.
Agencies see change ahead as clients take more marketing in-house
As brands continue to bring marketing capabilities in-house, agencies have no choice but to adjust.
Brands like Procter & Gamble, Unilever and United Airlines are bulking up their in-house capabilities, and others are following suit. “We are now seizing back control,” P&G marketing chief Marc Pritchard declared recently. The outcome of the move could be disastrous to agencies’ bottom lines. WPP Group’s share price, for instance, is down 14 percent from the start of the year.