What I’m Seeing in Agency Search After a Seven-Year Hiatus

It’s been a year and a half since my return to Pile and Company. Being away from agency search consulting for nearly seven years, it’s been eye-opening to see how significantly the industry has changed. And now that I have a few reviews and client engagements under my belt, I wanted to take a step back and capture what I’m seeing from a macro perspective.

Media: This isn’t your grandma’s bingo

To state the obvious, the media landscape is increasingly complex and always evolving. As a result, we’ve managed a number of media searches over the last 15 months. Clients need help navigating this universe, and expect (actually, require) their media partners to make strategic recommendations that maximize their brand’s investments and meet KPIs. Agencies must not only monitor media channels, but also pivot in real time to meet their client’s goals. (I refrained from using the word “optimize.” You’re welcome!)

Data: Sick of this word yet?

Data is hands down one of the most overused words in marketing. But that’s because it’s not going anywhere. I can’t tell you how many clients say, “We are a data-driven client.” And they absolutely should be. Data yields accountability and that’s what makes it valuable. Strategy and creative must be supported by data insights. It’s data that often provides the “ah-ha!” moment that can drastically impact a client’s business. It also holds hands to the fire for measuring success. Numbers don’t lie and aren’t subjective.

Content: No one can get enough

How do you deliver your message or product to an audience via a gazillion different media outlets? Content, of course! Another agency criterion we consistently hear from clients is the ability to create content that can be executed quickly and repurposed. As a result, we’ve seen more agencies bring production capabilities in house to deliver on this growing content need.

Marketing: It’s hard. Really hard.

When I was in college, finance and computer science majors thought that marketing was the easy major. And maybe 20 years ago a simple SWOT analysis could cure all ails. But if media isn’t your grandma’s bingo, then marketing isn’t your grandpa’s rodeo.

With marketing’s new reality imbued with a constant stream of data, all eyes are on this industry—from Wall Street to consumers who expect nothing less than exactly the right message at exactly the right time. CMOs and marketing teams are now responsible for helping to solve a company’s business objectives, not just marketing ones.

Erin Lanzafame is a Senior Consultant at Pile and Company, one of the industry’s leading agency search consultants and a trusted adviser in helping clients make their marketing resources and relationships better.