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State of the Agency
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Agencies, how we doing? 

Though it is not time for the annual checkup, sometimes it is good to get a checkup in when things aren't working the way they should. Or, as in this case, observers of the industry want to bring up relevant material for agencies, and needed to find out what trials and successes they are experiencing today.

The results are mixed.

Agency Post, in partnership with the BOLO (Be On the Look Out) 2012 conference, released a short but insightful state of the agency report. The conference, which is in the first week of October in Arizona, will focus on digital and the latest trends of the industry.

Based on their research, 85% of agencies have seen their client's budgets either remain consistent, or increase, which is a good sign. As we brought up before in lame economic terms, advertising spending is a leading indicator, meaning that if the budgets are staying the same or increasing, the environment which we find ourselves in now is expected to improve. We'll chalk that up as a positive.

Along with that, 83% of agencies plan to hire 1 to 5 more people, though not within the next six months. Again, positive feedback.

Then the results get a little interesting. In terms of education, 38% of professional development comes from conferences, while a mere 15% comes from mentors. That's frightening. We've all been to conferences, and we've all had to sit through the good and fascinating, and the posturing and miserable. For conferences to outweigh mentoring by nearly double demands a conversation. Why aren't the experienced ones taking younger ones under their wings? Why aren't there "new agency hire" programs to get these newbies on the right track? Again, the agency world can no longer throw these new people on the wall and see who sticks. The "burn and churn" philosophy that has slowly poisoned people's perceptions of the agency world needs to be dropped.

The last thing we'll point out is that 24% of agencies surveyed said that they felt unprepared in ROI analysis. Really? Perhaps there is a disconnect between what agencies believe ROI means, and what clients think ROI means. Return on Investment (ROI), can be determined between parties. The question, "Based on the campaign, how will we define success?" is an example of determining the ROI of a campaign. Sales revenue, door traffic, web traffic, downloads, and bounce rates are also small examples of ROI inputs. For nearly 1 in 4 agencies to have trouble getting the ROI analysis conversation going is troubling, but it sheds light on why clients are frustrated with agency costs. If we can't show them that what they're investing in is yielding return, how can the cost be justified?'

Anywho, there's our take. Check out the link and share your thoughts. Also, if any of you beautiful readers go to BOLO 2012, tell us what you thought about it.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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