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Agencies to Clients: Sharpen Your Skills

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NEW YORK In its second survey of agency leaders' views on clients, consultancy Scan International found little improvement in key areas such as compensation, agency briefing and integration. In fact, some client skills appear to have deteriorated.

The report, "A Global Voice for Marketing Agency Leaders," paints an overall bleak picture fraught with frustration. As one respondent wrote in an open comments section of the survey, "The clients want more and they're lowering fees. How can I do more when they're lowering fees?"

When asked to rate clients for their "realistic and fair compensation in respect to the scope of work and service level," 33 percent of the respondents found them to be "weak," 61 percent "average" and just 6 percent "excellent." Clients scored even worse on a question about "compensating you for the value you create for them," with 49 percent responding "weak," 49 percent "average" and 3 percent "excellent."

As for the quality of client briefings, 60 percent of the respondents described them as "average," and therefore, the report said, in need of improvement. Nearly a third (32 percent) found such briefings to be "weak" and only 8 percent deemed them "excellent." Two years ago, 40 percent said "average," 43 percent said "weak" and more than twice as many said the briefs were "excellent" (17 percent).

And while the percentage of agency leaders who rated their clients "weak" at integrating their multi-disciplinary marketing efforts was relatively similar -- 30 percent versus 36 percent in 2007 -- the proportion of those who found clients to be "excellent" dropped to 11 percent from 25 percent.

In short, the key, hot-button issues remain the same, despite being underscored in previous surveys by Scan and others.

The online survey took place in February, when Scan polled 619 CEOs, chairmen and managing directors at agencies in the U.S., Canada and Europe. They included DDB, BBBO, McCann Erickson, Draftfcb, Saatchi & Saatchi, Initiative, Mediaedge:cia, MPG, Zenith Optimedia, Starcom and Hill & Knowlton. Each respondent answered about 40 questions.

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