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What Clients Think 2019/2020

The Up to the Light report ‘What Clients Think 2019/2020’, in association with the DBA, was recently launched at a DBA seminar covering many aspects of the client/agency relationship. Every year the report provides a fascinating insight into the thoughts and issues affecting a wide cross section of clients and their relationships with their agencies.

Divided into three sections, the report looks at:

  • ‘Client world’ – the bigger picture client concerns and issues.
  • ‘Winning clients’ – agency new business activity and pitching.
  • ‘Retaining and growing clients’ – client service and client development issues.

This year’s report is based on 525 client interviews and is packed full of revealing statistics. As a snap-shot, here are four compelling take-outs:  

1. Cold new business approaches are a waste of time

aaron-burden-rgti2kaq5n4-unsplashWe have suspected it for a while, but the responses from clients are conclusive – 78% say they are not receptive to direct, cold new business approaches, and 89% say they are too busy to see speculative agency credentials presentations. So how do agencies break through? 78% of clients like to ‘discover’ a new agency rather than feel sold to.

2. Agencies need to illustrate commercial understanding and expertise

For clients to ‘discover’ new agencies, the agencies need to be illustrating their expertise, their opinions and their relevance in places where they can be discovered.

bruno-martins-ohjmwb4xwle-unsplashSocial media is not the place for this. Only 17% of clients follow their incumbent agency on Twitter. LinkedIn however is not considered a social media platform – 93% of clients claim to be active on the site and any agency who is not using the platform to illustrate their thought leadership is missing a trick. Another option is a return to print. 67% of clients prefer to receive printed communications rather than online newsletters.


3. Relationships between clients and agencies break down over servicing issues rather than creative output.

alex-vxtwboqjgdi-unsplashIt is rarely the work that sours the relationship. 86% of clients with a weaker or more vulnerable relationship with their design agency cited client servicing issues as the main reason. 46% of clients would like more regular (but short) progress reports. And the changing of the main point of contact is a recurring issue – 49% believe that design agencies have a high rate of staff turnover.

4. Recommendations

89% of clients believe the best way to source new agencies is through recommendations from colleagues. But at the same time 29% of clients would happily introduce their design agency to a colleague, but they have never been asked. There is clearly an opportunity here for agencies to put in place a process of asking their clients to recommend them at regular times through the relationship.


By having an actual policy in place about asking for recommendations an agency can drive new business in the direction they want to go in, rather oleg-laptev-qrkjwe6yfjo-unsplash-1than being at the whim of potential conversations that might or might not ever lead anywhere.


Want to know more about What Clients Think to help strengthen and grow your client relationships next year? Download the full report here.

Image credit:

Suhyeon Choi | Unsplash
Aaron Burden| Unsplash
Bruno Martins | Unsplash
Alex | Unsplash
Oleg Laptev | Unsplash


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