Though many sources are saying that the advertising industry is heating up, the game field is warming up for only a few of players. The group responsible for drumming up business for agencies, the business development team, has sure seen better days than the past seven years. Yes, pressure has been greater on only a few more positions than the bizdev team.
A report came out by RSW/US that the business development divisions in agencies have been a revolving door. The report reveals that of the agencies surveyed, 80% of the business development directors last less than two years in their positions. Yikes. That actually resembles the statistic we saw about a year ago at the AdAge Small Agency Conference that showed that CMOs stay at brands at only an average of two years.
But it does help us onlookers see the pressure that is on these people. When we were all-in on our agency, our bizdev team was very small (just us) and our account team was just as small (just us). So to be able to grow the business and maintain strong accounts proved to be more difficult than we anticipated.
Likewise for these leaders, the RSW/US folks suggest that the goals set for these new business leaders are unrealistic based on the current economic conditions. Yes, people and some brands are investing, but the money, by some manner, is not cycling through as it once did. There is still a multitude of companies sitting on millions of dollars in cash, whether to improve the financial report or out of fear of another bubble burst.
Whatever the case may be, agencies are not raking in the clients as they did before.
Perhaps the agency model has grown weary of brands. Yes, we have all been watching the trend of "in-house agencies" taking shape. Maybe these new business folks need to sharpen their message, learn to sell the agency solution in this new economy?
We don't have the answer, but we'd love to hear ideas.
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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