In our most recent survey report (Social Media Changes 2009-2012: Marketer and Agency Perspective) 76% of marketing agencies surveyed state that one of the top digital capabilities that they sell to their marketing clients is “strategic counsel”.

This ranks right up there with “web development” (83%), “online advertising” (66%), and “social/digitial media planning/buying” (60%).

Great to see marketing firms are so active in the strategy space.

Or are they?

Flip over to the marketer side of the world and the story couldn’t be more the opposite.

Only 16% of marketers state that they use strategic counsel from their marketing agency.  This ranks right down there with “podcasting” (8%), and “blog monitoring/blog content development”, each at 28%.

So what gives?

Are agencies grossly inflating their worth? 

Or are marketers simply not listening?

Based on other findings in our survey, I suspect it’s more the latter as marketers also tell us that their marketing agencies simply aren’t carrying them far enough into the social/digital space.  While they might do a good job of setting up things like Facebook pages and LinkedIn accounts, they haven’t proven to be the best strategic counselors for their clients.

So what does this mean for you, the marketer?

Means you need to push your current agency to improve.  And means the next time you look for a new marketing firm, you need to not just SEE the work they have done, but you need to understand the thinking that went into it and how they’ve helped the client get to a better place at THAT point in time AND going forward.

Dig deep early and you’ll be much more satisfied long-term.