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rsw-us-ad-agency-evaluation-criteria-jan12.gifThree-quarters of marketers rank specific sector experience between a 7 and 10 on a 10-point scale of importance (with 10 being the most important) when looking for a new agency, according to [download page] a survey released in January 2012 by RSW/US. In fact, the highest proportions of respondents rank sector focus a 10, 9, or 7 (all at 20%) in importance when looking for a new agency, compared to only 8% combined ranking it a 4 or lower.

According to a May 2011 survey from RSW/US, an agency’s specialty or type was the leading factor influencing marketers’ decisions in selecting a new agency, cited by 43%.

Websites Also Important

Data from the “2012 New Year Outlook Report” indicates that an agency’s website is also quite significant when marketers are considering whether or not to entertain a conversation with an agency. 4 in 10 marketers rated the website’s importance an 8 (29%), 9 (4%), or 10 (7%) on the 10-point scale. By comparison, just 1 in 10 cited an agency’s website to be of relative unimportance (bottom 3 box score).

Networking Primary Info Source

38% of clients say they most often learn about new agencies from networking, more than double the proportion that rely on friends and co-workers (18%). Outreach also plays a significant role: 17% cite direct outreach from the agencies themselves as their most frequent source of agency information. Past agency relationships (11%) are also a factor, although news/press (6%), conferences (4%), and web searches (4%) appear to be less common information sources.

Spec Work Critical, But Unused

rswus-agencies-spec-work.jpgMore than three-quarters of the marketers surveyed say that it is important (giving it a rating of 6 or higher on the 10-point scale) that agencies present spec creative work when trying to win their business during final pitch presentations, with a plurality (30%) giving it a rating of 10. Additionally, 62% say that it is not at all likely (bottom 3 box score) that an agency can win their business without creative spec work to share during a final pitch presentation. According to RSW/US’ May 2011 survey (see link above) 72% of marketers cited creativity presented as being among the most critical aspects of an agency pitch, behind only an understanding of their market (77%).

Agencies do not appear to be heeding the message, though: only 48% of respondents to the most recent survey said they had presented spec work as part of the final presentation in their most pitch situation, and only 49% reported having ever used spec creative work as a means of engaging a prospect in an initial conversation.

About the Data: The 2012 RSW/US New Year Outlook Survey was completed by over 100 senior level marketers and over 100 agency principals from agencies of different types/sizes during December 2011. The agency sample came from a database of marketing service companies ranging in size from under $5M in capitalized billings to over $100M. The disciplines of each agency varied from full service advertising to digital, to marketing consultancies. The client sample came from the RSW/US database of over 20,000 marketing decision maker contacts. Client company size, location, and size varied.

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