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What’s keeping creative agency leaders awake at night?

Published Apr 24, 2023 – By Lulu Trask

An alarm wakes up man for work on blue background.

Lack of client focus, clients overwhelmed by technology and keeping employees curious. These are the three main concerns keeping agency leaders awake at night, according to the Global Voices panel at the Content Marketing Association’s B2B Content Marketing Summit.

Andy Seibert, CEO and Founder of Imprint, Jacqueline Loch, EVP, Social and Emerging Platforms at SJC Media, and Wardour CEO and Founder Martin MacConnol, all co-founders of agency network Global Voices, took to the stage to shine a light on the state of creative agencies in 2023.

Here, we look at some of the most critical issues currently facing agencies and, crucially, the solutions.

Clients aren’t focused

Referring to Covid-19 as a reason for X, Y or Z seems a little bit ‘done’, but there’s no getting away from the fact the rapid need for change brought on by the pandemic has led to many clients finding it more challenging than ever to know where to focus their marketing efforts.

Agencies have an important role to play here, primarily by being more directive with clients than they’ve probably ever been before. Many of us will remember the days when a client came to us with a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve. Nowadays, more clients are approaching agencies simply for ‘help’ – and it’s often down to agencies to identify exactly what type of support the client needs.

With change comes uncertainty, so data is becoming ever more important in giving clients the confidence to make decisions. This means agencies need to become adept at not only sourcing data, but also at analysing it and turning it into something meaningful and actionable for clients.

Finally, by including key agency members in strategic planning sessions, agencies will be able to align suggested marketing direction with the client’s core strategy. In a world where so many of us are struggling to focus, the close alignment of marketing strategies with corporate strategies is more important than ever.

There’s too much technology

Hands up if you’ve heard of generative AI? Us too. We’ve produced thought leadership about it, our clients are asking us to produce content about it, and we’ve even hosted an event devoted to it. But AI is just one type of technology that’s driving discussion. Whether it’s the technology needed to provide the best level of user engagement in an interactive video, or the tech that agencies are using behind the scenes to speed up processes resulting in improved creative output, clients are being consistently bombarded with news about the latest and greatest tech – and, for many clients, this feels overwhelming.

The role of the agency, therefore, is shifting to include a more advisory aspect. Agencies need to be able to explain the different suitable tech options to clients clearly, and to research and explain what – and, crucially, why – a particular type of technology will best support their marketing efforts.

We need to be more curious

Curiosity killed the cat, but at some agencies a lack curiosity is killing creativity. It could be that agencies are having to spend more time helping clients to find their focus or explain the latest tech (let alone research it themselves), but many are finding that the creative agency ‘spark’ that generates those award-winning ideas isn’t shining quite as brightly as it used to.

A lot of it comes down to how an agency works with its clients. Something as simple as re-thinking the way creative briefs are put together can encourage clients to think differently and agencies to push the boundaries of creativity. We’ve also become used to a virtual world, where the words “I’ll just share my screen” are an intrinsic part of any creative brainstorm. But putting agency creatives in front of clients live, in the same actual room, will undoubtedly get more creative juices flowing, inspiring clients and agency creatives alike.

What’s next for agencies?

The role of the agency is changing. Successful agencies will need to become more direct, more advisory and find new – and revisit old – methods of client collaboration.

To find out how Wardour is already doing this, get in touch with us at hello@wardour.co.uk – we’d love to have a chat.

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