A new study from Frontify and Ad Age Studio 30, surveying agencies and CMOs in enterprise companies, details a disconnect between agencies and clients where the needs of brands with the current capabilities of agencies are at odds with each other.
For some, the transition is a result of the accelerating digital transformation of organisations, which was well underway before the worldwide covid-19 pandemic, but accelerated dramatically because of it. However - and most alarming for the brand agency relationship - much of the disconnect is due to a failure to match the expectations that brands and agencies have of each other.
The study reveals how differently brands and agencies view each other and their roles in the marketer agency partnership while also pointing towards solutions:
Key Take-Outs from Clients POV:
14.4% planning to bring brand management in-house within the next five years.
83.2% of clients expect brand strategy to be an area agencies should improve on.
80% of marketers are planning to perform digital brand transformation in-house, which would tend to undermine agency investment in this service.
It is interesting to note that 'brand strategy' is an area that brands wish their agencies should improve on. This highlights that even though brands want to take control of their own brand strategy decisions in-house, they view the neutral, external counsel of their agencies as key to its successful implementation.
Regardless of how high these statistics are, with the appropriate agency expertise onboard, helping in digital brand transformation can be a powerful added source of agency revenue. Agencies sit on a world of knowledge from working with thousands of brands - something that should be valued and could be shared with their clients.
Agencies can therefore play an important role in supporting their clients by being one step ahead of them by surveying the latest technology, the most efficient work methods and helping the client figure out how they can apply that information to their reality and daily lives.
Brands on the other hand, want to control their strategies internally, but want better advice externally, indicating a desire for a new collaborative partnership instead of the existing, outdated client-agency model and mindset.
Brands should therefore communicate their expectations to their agency partners to ensure the relationship is a healthy, successful and sustainable one and fine-tune their relationships to ensure control and capabilities are well-matched and shared.
Agencies on the other hand, need to rethink how they can help brands by building long-lasting relationships on expertise, base-building, maintenance and guidance. They also need to be aware that, on average, they are falling short in the eyes of their clients.
Due to the fact that agencies are expected to achieve results rapidly, they need to prioritise the fundamentals of agency services, while their guiding principles should be to first bring value to the brand in demonstrable, impactful ways and then bring strategic brand consultancy into the picture. Only then will the brand relationship be a non-zero-sum game for clients and agencies alike.
For the full report please click here.