New Study Reveals What a Client Wants in an Agency

NEW YORK Clients said “having an understanding of their marketplace” was the most important criteria for selecting an agency, according to a new survey that probes how clients view agencies from consultancy Reardon Smith Whittaker.

Grasping the company’s strategic direction as well as the creative work presented were tied for the second-most important factors cited in the report titled, “A Client’s View of Agency Performance.” This was followed by “offering something fresh and new.”

This year the Cincinnati-based company polled 184 client marketing and brand executives from the likes of AT&T, Dunkin’ Brands, Merck, MetLife and Revlon via an online questionnaire that was distributed in November.

“Simply popping out the monthly newsletter or the fun, quirky e-mail blast isn’t going to work anymore,” said Mark Sneider, managing director at Reardon Smith Whittaker. “Given the challenges clients are facing in light of the economy, they need agencies that can get up to speed quickly, add smart value-added thinking and are a trustworthy lot.”

As in past years, Reardon Smith Whittaker, a consultancy that coaches agencies on new business development, focused on why clients seek new agencies, what they look for and how satisfied they are with the results.

The top-ranked reasons the respondents cited for launching reviews were unhappiness with their agency’s thinking (46 percent), followed by dissatisfaction with creative work (40 percent) and not being proactive enough (38 percent).

The execs had mixed feelings about agency searches. They find the process to be time-consuming (42 percent) and 28 percent agree that “you’re told so many things that you’re not sure what to believe,” yet 37 percent said reviews were “exciting” and 22 percent “look forward to it.”

As for the tactics they’re most interested in, the respondents pointed to online marketing (69 percent), buzz marketing (58 percent), experiential efforts (53 percent), search engine marketing (52 percent) and mobile marketing (25 percent).