What’s next marketers?

What’s left to say about the last 12 months?

As marketers readjust to the latest readjustments (which themselves were adjusting to previous adjustments), our New Year Outlook report hopefully proved a valuable tool for sifting through surface-level insights to find the real sentiment driving the path ahead for marketers.

Overall, the mood is one of caution.

We’ve spoken over the last few weeks about forecasts on 2021 investment, both outside marketing (an all-time low), and within marketing (a mixed bag).

Taken together, these feelings from marketers like yourself combine to tell us this: while 2021 gives hope as an improvement over the year prior, don’t expect things to revert back to the way they were pre-pandemic.

Ok, so “things will be different” isn’t exactly a groundbreaking insight, but stick with me: you and your agency roster have a chance to define what the fabled “new normal” is going to look like in your world.

The agency world was in flux going into the pandemic, and certainly COVID has accelerated that, but the “reset” puts you and your agency into the driver’s seat.

Now more than ever, your agency can demonstrate value as a strategic partner.

They can drive a proactive push to rewrite the rules of how your brand represents (and in some cases, reinvents) itself.

This kind of initiative will also be a test of the resources outside your four walls.

In-house teams have proven effective in developing strong content, but there’s really no replacing the external creativity and perspective offered by an outside shop.

For example, the shift toward purpose-based marketing was a factor in the success of many brands over the last year.  And the creative review of how that looks within a company is a product of collaboration between the power of in-house teams and the agility and perspective of external shops.

Messaging has become a driving force for what the year ahead will look like, whether that’s a streamlined marketing plan, a shift to new channels, a combination of the two, or none of the above.

Whatever it is, your agency needs to serve as the tip of the spear in the initiative.

Of course, the marketing world as a whole has moved away from huge agency rosters: our survey found that 74% of marketers are using 2 or fewer firms, up 4% from last year, and part of a 20% increase over the last 4 years.

In other words, that outside perspective is becoming more scarce, and its value – especially in the months to come – can’t be overstated.

Regardless of how much your company relies on agency teams, I encourage you to lean on them for a look at the road ahead. It’s the most effective way for them to add value to your relationship right now, and a lack of that direction should be considered a red flag.

“Strategic” is a word thrown around all too often in the world of agencies, but in these (excuse one final use) Unprecedented Times, the ability for your agency to guide your course and devise creative solutions as 2021 carries forward may be the single largest factor in determining the value of your marketing partnership.

Call us if you need to find a new firm (513-559-3101).