In our latest RSW/AgencySearch survey among Marketers and Agencies on the changes in social and digital media since 2009, there were some interesting findings about attitude and behavior changes in this space.

One in particular was a statistic that showed a dramatic increase in the amount of “strategic counsel” on digital and social media that Agencies were giving Marketers (from 2009-2012), but an actual decline in the amount that Marketers were using.

In 2009 the disparity between what Marketers were using and what Agencies were giving was already great (20% versus 59%).  In 2012, the difference became even more exaggerated (16% versus 76%).

As we noted in the survey, Marketers are either not listening or simply not finding value in the counsel they are providing.

We suspect that this all ties back to findings in another part of our same survey that suggests that Agencies aren’t as effective as they should be at taking their clients to a better place in the digital space.  If Agencies want Marketers to listen, they need to give them more than they can read in the general press!

So what does this mean for you, the Marketer?

If you’re tired of leading your Agency and you feel that you need to find a better firm, make sure you do the proper due diligence when working your way through the search.

Start at the RFI  Instead of just asking very rote questions about the facts and figures of the Agency, start probing a bit deeper into their thinking and how they have helped carry their Marketing clients forward.

Talk to the lead Agencies  Instead of just receiving the RFIs, making your selection, then submitting and RFP for a review, talk to the Agencies in the narrowed down list.  Set up a Q&A/Chemistry type call to see what kinds of questions they ask you and importantly start throwing some probative questions their way.  You’ll be amazed at what you hear/find.

Make the final presentation a challenge  Don’t just make it a beauty contest.  Most Agencies do some pretty nice work.  And while the work is important, the Agency’s ability to think and lead you is equally, if not more important.  So give them a challenge that will allow them to showcase how they think about your problem specifically.  This way you’ll be able to evaluate on many levels beyond just how good their work is and how well they present.