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Adam Fennelow, Head of Services, DBA

The report is a valuable tool for agencies in planning new business approaches and assessing their client services and relationships. It enables an agency to put themselves in their clients’ shoes and predict reactions and objections before they are raised, and for clients it enables them to benchmark the issues they face, their approach to design and the relationship they have with their agencies.

The report is divided into three sections:

  • Client world: looking at wider client pressures and concerns, which impact the way in which they operate.
  • Winning clients: looking at agency new business activity and pitching.
  • Retaining and growing clients: covering client service and development issues.

Here are my top 5 take-outs from the report and launch event:

1. The rise of data & technology

43% of marketing directors believe that data and analytics is an area they need to improve on – while at the same time they say that the combination of creativity and technical skills is hard to find. How do agencies get to grips with integrating the use, management, and if necessary the display of data and analytics in their work, or with helping clients understand what information is useful while they are drowning in a sea of data?

2. The perceived lack of commercial awareness in agencies

The skills combination of creativity and commercial awareness is the most sought after and rarest agency combination. Agencies that understand the commercialises of the client business are able to justify creative concepts and smooth internal anxieties. At the same time 75% of clients admit to finding design effectiveness difficult to quantify. There is a huge opportunity for astute agencies to lead the conversation around effectiveness to prove their commercial acumen.

3. Clients are risk averse

82% of clients describe themselves as risk averse. They understand the need for brand differentiation and innovation but there needs to be a strong business case. Agencies who call on clients to ‘be brave’ without addressing the elements of risk head-on will end up being ignored. Build the business case along side the creative case.

4. One Direction - not the band, a single creative route

63% of clients prefer to be presented with just one creative route rather than the option of three. If the agency is to be seen as the expert then should they be advising on the single solution rather than pushing the decision onto the client? The caveat here comes in the fact that the remaining 37% strongly favour having a choice. Report author and DBA Expert, Jonathan Kirk shares a few thoughts on this in the video snippet below.

5. Building existing client relationships

40% of clients are not fully aware of the full skill set of their incumbent agency. Perhaps because the average time that clients last saw a credentials presentation from their existing agency is 2.5 years. Concerns about skills gaps are an opportunity to talk to clients about their needs. Ask questions about projects that are going to other agencies – why were you not considered?

Further resources

Download the Report – You can download your copy of Up to the Light’s What Client Think Report here

 

The Report’s author Jonathan Kirk also joined us for our April Members’ Forum to discuss how agency/client relationships are evolving, delving further into these points. Here’s a summary of the conversation.

 

Watch a recording of the Report launch – DBA members have exclusive access to webinar recordings and can catch up on the What Clients Think Report Launch webinar here

 

Gain further insights – Jonathan Kirk delivers training on this topic in a workshop called World Class Client Servicing. Find out more by emailing bookings@dba.org.uk

 

Get in touch – if you are a DBA member who would like to talk through issues you are facing, or if you are interested in becoming a member, you can schedule time in my diary here.

The ‘What Clients Think’ Report is published by Up to the Light in association with the DBA. You can find out more about Up to the Light’s founder and DBA Expert, Jonathan Kirk here

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Main Content

Data and creativity
43% of marketing directors believe that data & analytics is an area that needs to be improved upon. A lot of clients now are much more taken up with the ‘how’ of marketing – how to connect messages across different channels and how to gain actionable insights from data that will drive customer experiences. The time spent on this shrinks the amount of time spent on the importance of the great creative idea. So how do we combat that and keep the importance of the great idea at the forefront when clients’ time is being squeezed. 
 
Commercial awareness
The most sought after skill in agencies is creativity aligned with commercial awareness. If agencies asked for more data, focussed specifically around the business challenge you’re being asked to solve, it could help drive more effective design. Whilst at the same time making sure you continue to bring your unique perspective and creativity to the insights. Having enough commercial awareness to put together a strong business case for what you’re recommending, and giving clients enough so that they can argue what you’re recommending internally is key – more relevance, more credibility, and more chance of selling ideas to wider stakeholders.
 
Risk aversion
82% of clients describe themselves as risk averse. The creative presentation is a nervy thing for them – so how can we help them reduce down that subjectivity. Many agencies don’t do a creative brief to translate the client’s brief into something that can give them something tangible to rationalise the creative work, as well as inspire the creative team. But how do you manage this process, alongside the client, without killing the creative idea?
 
One direction
63% of clients prefer to be presented with just one creative route rather than the option of three. At the same time, a lot of agencies say they are collaborative, but many still rely on the big reveal of that one idea, which can exacerbate the nerviness explored earlier. So how can we work in a way where we get this balance right – particularly when the other 37% of clients strongly prefer to be presented with options rather than one big idea. It’s about knowing your client and understanding what works in their culture.

Our Members’ Forum takes place on the first Monday of each month, at 4 – 5pm or Tuesday if it is a bank holiday. If you would like to attend, get in touch here

Our next Members’ Forum will be taking place on Tuesday 2 May at 4pm BST.

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