Marketers rank strategic insights as their most important criterion when reviewing new agencies, according to results from an RSW/US survey, placing more emphasis on an agency’s strategic capabilities than on its creative ideas, chemistry, and cost. The RSW/US survey is one of several to share that result (see here and here for examples). It also finds that marketers’ top criteria line up with how agencies believe they should be evaluated.
That is, marketers’ top 3 criteria (strategic insights; creative ideas; and chemistry) were also the top 3 criteria by which agencies believe they should be judged. Both groups differ on cost, though: agencies believe this is the least important criterion (if only…), while marketers rank it 4th on the list of 6, close behind chemistry.
It’s interesting to look at the importance of strategic insights against perceptions of agency specialization, which 8 in 10 marketers believe to be important. The RSW/US report notes some of the open-ended responses from marketers regarding specialization, finding differing opinions regarding strategic competence. On the one hand, one reason given for why marketers should not place too much importance on specialization is that “strategy should cross specialties.” On the other hand, one reason cited for why marketers do want specialization is that “agencies can be more focused and strategic when they’re specialized.”
Regardless of whether or not they are emphasizing an industry specialization when pitching new business, though, the data clearly shows that demonstrating strategic competence should be top of mind for agencies.
About the Data: The 2013 RSW/US Agency-Marketer Business Report was completed by 124 senior level Marketers and 130 Agency Principals from Agencies of different types/sizes during January, 2013.