If it’s one thing advertising agencies are consistently being told, from seemingly everyone (and especially since the pandemic hit), it’s that they consistently need to prove out their value.
Adweek recently issued a series of pieces, with one title being, what add agencies should be doing to demonstrate their value in 2022.
A quote from that piece:
In 2022, agencies need to do a number things to strengthen their value, including establishing their own brands, helping clients make their agency rosters more efficient and negotiating better revenue structures.
See agencies, that’s all you have to do this year to strengthen your value!
Just establish your own brand, negotiate a better revenue structure and help your clients make their agency rosters more efficient.
Oh, and do all the work, and get more new business and hire all those people and do more with much, much less.
OK, I’m being obnoxious, the Adweek piece actually has some very solid points, and ones we’ve spoken to before.
But it is frustrating isn’t it?
All you hear as an agency is you need to prove your value, yet, that’s what you’re doing every day through the work you do for your clients, right?
Yes! But, proving value does need to go beyond the work, and that’s in your control as an agency.
Biggest Challenges Facing Marketing Agencies in 2022
From our 2022 New Year Outlook Report, we asked marketers and agencies what they thought were the biggest challenges rolling into 2022.
In this post, I’m focusing specifically on the challenges facing agencies. (Marketers are on deck.)
Starting with the understatement of the year, 2021 did not go as planned.
For marketing agencies, the year was not all negative however — 2021 saw a rise of needed organic growth for many firms, although the flip side of that was budgets that were all over the map.
Two areas where marketers and agencies align in terms of their perceived challenges:
1) Staying relevant/educating clients and
2) staffing and retention. Marketers and agencies listed some version of these two challenges repeatedly, and it mirrors several stats we discussed in this report.
Other notable challenges are being able to offer a more robust suite of tools, per marketers, and on the agency side, multiple responses from them addressed the lack of actual face time with clients, resulting in weaker relationships, continual CMO churn, and “balancing the expectations of employees in today’s labor market with the expectations clients have for quick turn service.”
And ever-present was also new client acquisition.
Thankfully, several of these challenges are within your firm’s control.
In a continuing theme from previous sections, educating your clients on the marketing landscape needs to be a priority as we still wade through COVID’s uncertainty.
Per section IV of our report, this doesn’t mean you must be the expert across all facets of the landscape, there’s not enough time in the day, but you can prioritize the information that will be most valuable to your client and do the homework.
Per the Adweek piece I mentioned earlier, from Marla Kaplowitz, the president and CEO of the 4A’s,
Clients are hopefully going to continue to be looking to agencies to offer the external perspective, the provocative point of view and to give a sense of what’s going on in culture,
Kaplowitz says of the core value agencies provide.
Also in your control is the acquisition of new clients.
For many firms, organic growth replaced an actual new business strategy last year, and while organic growth is a wonderful thing, and should be part of your strategy, you can’t sustain growth on organic alone, just as you can’t sustain growth on referrals alone.
Staffing is obviously less in your control.
The cyclical nature of our industry and the country dictates this will change, but COVID has of course affected the workplace permanently in many ways as well.
Flexibility is key here, and it will be challenging as you try to retain your culture, but taking a step back and looking at your employee retention, and simple steps like reviewing your firm on Glass Door and Google Business for example, will help you attract new talent.
And being flexible in work-from-home/office balance looks to be a permanent fixture as well.
The good news there: agencies were well-placed, for the most part, before the pandemic to allow for that flexibility.