What Brands Want from Their Agencies (and Who’s Doing It Best)

By Claire Daniel 


Specialist consultants (advertising, digital, PR, branding, social media) are gaining ground on full-service agencies as brands’ first resources for business advice, according to new research carried out by Marketing Week in association with Weber Shandwick:

“The value of employing a full-service agency is questioned by more than 40 per cent of marketers, who prefer to have specialists managing individual marketing channels. However, almost as many say they would consider working with a full-service shop if it saved them money on fees.

In-house focus also seems to be a developing trend for certain marketing disciplines, as more than a quarter of marketers have taken agency work in-house in the past two years and reduced the number of external partners.”

It should be noted that while “the concept of having a lead agency is gradually becoming outdated,” there remains “plenty of opportunity for agencies to perform influential roles for clients in areas where they have proven expertise.”

So who is doing it best?

what_do_you_consider_to_be_your_primary_strategic_partner-46_460At twenty percent the survey says “my advertising agency” is considered to be a brand’s most strategic partner, followed by “my digital agency” (18), “my branding agency” (16%), “my media agency” (15%), “my PR agency” (13%), and “my social media agency” (2%).

That’s rough news if you’re in PR:

“More than five times as many marketers say PR agencies are losing ground as say they are gaining ground on other specialisms. There is good news too for the discipline. Respondents agree that PR agencies take the lead on messaging and are a strategic partner, and that reputation management is crucial in a digital world.”

…but it’s rougher news if you’re a social media agency (sorry, no light and the end of the tunnel for you!).

And what could they be doing better? The survey found several key areas that agencies can work on, which are:

  1. Customer acquisition
  2. Measuring effectiveness/Analytics
  3. Personalization
  4. Keeping clients abreast of developments in their markets
  5. Staying ahead of customer behavior

Some key quotes:

  • “Find us new and interesting channels to reach our target audiences – our media recommendations are always ‘same old’.”
  • “Understand changes in SEO and content marketing, and how they can be applied.”
  • “Have a view on how they integrate with the activities of other agencies and don’t land-grab.”
  • “Communicate and deliver – neither of which my agencies do. They are missing targets, which we agreed together, and are costing me money through failed projects and reputation through cancelled events.”