Survey: Too many marketers are unlikely to recommend their agency

What are brands looking for in agency partners?

Two out of three marketers surveyed are unlikely or only somewhat likely to recommend their primary agency to a friend or colleague. One possible reason: Only 60% of those polled agree or strongly agree that their agency prioritizes their business.

Agency Sparks, which matches brands and agencies, surveyed nearly 200 senior marketers from companies such as Coca-Cola, Mazda, eBay, Delta Airlines, Evernote, Red Bull, and Boys & Girls Clubs to get their thoughts on their agency relationships.

The survey shows that over 90% of marketers value chemistry, creativity, and professionalism when selecting an agency partner. Only 23% say they care about agency awards, and just 16% are swayed by agency size.

Since 60% of companies work with between two to four agencies, it's important to know what to prioritize. According to the survey, marketers say they are generally most satisfied with their current agencies' relationship-oriented attributes, such as collaboration and responsiveness (cited by 81% and 80% of those polled, respectively). They're less satisfied with their agencies' delivery-oriented attributes, such as innovativeness and a focus on data (cited by 60% and 54%, respectively).

One way for an agency to stand out is to vary the levels of seniority on an account. The survey shows that 63% of marketers say the seniority within a team is an important factor when choosing an agency, but only 26% say their primary agency never puts junior talent on their account.

That may be tough for junior creatives to hear, but nobody said this was an easy business.

According to the survey, marketers are planning to slow investments in digital media by 8% next year. Instead, they are expected to increase spending on social media and influencers, video, mobile, experiential, and emerging technology.

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