Earlier this month, Sapient conducted a survey of 200 CMOs and senior marketing professionals trying to gain insight into what they wanted from their agencies. Based on the results, Sapient Interactive put together a Top 10 Wish List for Agencies of the Future.
1. Greater knowledge of the digital space. With more than a third of marketers surveyed revealing that they are not confident that their current agency is well-positioned to take their brand through the uncharted waters of online digital marketing and interactive advertising, it’s clear that agencies need to have a greater knowledge of the digital space in order to thrive. In fact, nearly half (45 percent) of the respondents have switched agencies (or plan to switch in the next 12 months) for one with greater digital knowledge or have hired an additional digital specialist to handle their interactive campaigns. Further, when it comes to an agency’s area of expertise, 79% of respondents rated “interactive/digital” functions as ‘important/very important.’
2. More use of “pull interactions.” When trying to engage consumers with their brand, 90 percent of respondents agree that it is becoming increasingly important that their agency uses ‘pull interactions’ such as social media and online communities rather than traditional ‘push’ campaigns.
3. Leverage virtual communities. An overwhelming 94 percent of respondents expressed interest in leveraging virtual communities (public and private) to understand more about their target audience.
4. Agency executives using the technology they are recommending. Ninety-two percent of respondents said it was ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ important that agency employees use the technologies that they are recommending. For example, it is important that agency executives regularly use Facebook, Flickr, wikis, blogs, etc. in their personal social media mix.
5. Chief Digital Officers make agencies more appealing. Forty-three percent of marketers surveyed said that agencies with chief digital officers are more appealing than those without.
6. Web 2.0 and social media savvy. Sixty three percent of marketers surveyed said that an agency’s Web 2.0 and social media capabilities are ‘important/very important’ when it comes to agency selection.
7. Agencies that understand consumer behavior. Seventy-six percent of respondents deemed this as an ‘important/very important’ aspect of their agency’s online digital marketing and interactive advertising area of expertise.
8. Demonstrate strategic thinking. Seventy-seven percent of marketers surveyed ranked strategy/brain trust capabilities at the top of their agency wish list.
9. Branding and creative capabilities. Sixty-seven percent of respondents ranked branding at the top of their agency wish list while seventy-six percent ranked creative capabilities as ‘important/very important.’
10. Ability to measure success. It’s no surprise that marketers want an agency that can report on where campaigns succeeded, fell short and where they should be fine-tuned. Sixty-five percent ranked analytics at the top of their agency wish list.
You will be amazed by the processes from top advertising agency and web design companies.
So, some of these are gimmes. Like strategic thinking, ability to measure success and creative capabilities. I mean, if you don't have those – are you even an agency?
#4 strikes me as one of the most important. There is an expectation that the people leading the strategies will have used the technologies they are recommending. You can't just say "Sure, let's do a Facebook group" and then go ask your junior designer to set it up. Agency execs need to be engaged and active in the space.
This goes hand in hand with the attractiveness of a Chief Digital Officer. Clients want someone who has been in the trenches, wrestling with personal and professional aspects of the digital marketing and social media space. We're coming into a time when if you, as a marketer, don't, at the very least, have a comprehensive and personalised LinkedIn profile, you might as well get into a different industry.
"Leverage virtual communities" is one of those answers that sounds really good but no one really knows what it means. Who doesn't want to leverage their virtual community? This one needs more detail.
I've requested a copy of the full results from Sapient. Hopefully I'll get a copy and will be able to unpack some of these results in a bit more detail.
In the meantime, what do you think:
- If you're a "digital" agency, are you thinking "Yup! Got all that in the bag and more!".
- If you're in a traditional agency, are you quaking in your boots? Let us know (and heck, you can even make it anonymous – I won't tell) what conversations are going on about the future direction and skill-set of your agency.
- And marketers, what are you wishing for from an agency? Do these results resonate with you?
We'd love to hear your thoughts!