Whilst digital and traditional agencies continue to trade shots over which camp offers clients the better solution, has anyone actually stopped to ask clients what they want? Well yes, actually someone has. In a report published on Forbes based on feedback from 1,850 CMOs and other marketing executives, it appears that clients are actually pretty clear on what they want from their agency partners.
Topping the list of requirements, 68% of CMOs put integrated marketing communications ahead of “effective advertising” (65%) when asked what was the most important things they wanted from an agency.
The rationale for this is actually pretty simple. CMOs are under an immense amount of pressure in a rapidly changing environment, with 54% of respondents indicating that marketing is becoming more complex due to the explosion of communication channel options available and by default this is making their job more challenging. So reading between the lines, clients are not looking for a traditional or digital agency – they are looking for an agency “partner” that can integrate messages holistically across all channels.
Two key words emerged from the findings, “Integrated” and “Partner” and its important that we in the industry take note of this and leave historical misconceptions in the past.
When asked what is the most important consideration for choosing a new agency, 68% of CEOs said “Chemistry” with the proposed agency team over a 62% belief that “the creative presented is likely to be a Big Idea.” This would reinforce our belief that the relationship between agency and client is key. For that very reason, our culture is rooted in working “with” clients as opposed to simply “for” them. This subtle difference has a profound impact on how things are done.
Firstly, it allows clients to see that we have a genuine and vested interest in their brand that extends beyond the traditional perception of agencies only being interested in billing. This has actually led to a very unique look inside the companies we work with which then opens up the possibility for much more honest and meaningful communications.
Interestingly the fact that CMOs place such a weighting on the importance of a fully integrated approach echoes our own commitment to integration. From our earliest days we have championed the viewpoint that ‘communication’ is in a state of constant evolution and by default, it is the responsibility of those within the industry to understand the ability and willingness of people to absorb messaging overlapping channels.
When The Mission won Gold at the 2013 An Post Integrated Direct Marketing Awards, it was for an integrated campaign that embraced a holistic approach to utilising the relevant strengths of each medium and making it intrinsically relevant to our audience. This required an understanding of not only the strengths of each channel, but also its limitations. It was also a case of practising what we preach.
The future holds many challenges and equally just as many opportunities for clients and agencies. But the biggest challenge for all will be accepting the need to adapt and evolve and the necessity of working together. Ignore the insights of the 1,850 CMO’s who took part in the survey at your own risk.