Agency Management Institute Study Identifies What Marketing Officers Want (and Don’t Want) from An Agency

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CMO findings offer insight for agencies to support successful and long-term client relationships

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The Agency Management Institute (AMI) offers agency management training, consulting and facilitates agency owner peer networks.

This report is a “look under the hood” of what truly motivates marketing agency partnership decisions and their longevity. It’s not reading minds but it’s definitely a first-ever quantitative look at what they are thinking.

Content editor note: Interviews available upon request by calling 515-202-1396. The complete report, infographic, additional graphics, and bios and photos are available for download at

What makes an organization select and retain an agency to assist with its marketing strategies and tactics? For agency management and new business development teams, that is the million-dollar question (and often even more). A report released this week by the Agency Management Institute gives a glimpse into just that.

“Agencies that are trying to develop new business and retain clients they have, have to be able to address the real needs of their prospects and clients,” says Drew McLellan, head of AMI and an agency owner himself. “This report is a “look under the hood” of what truly motivates marketing agency partnership decisions and their longevity. It’s not reading minds but it’s definitely a first-ever quantitative look at what they are thinking.”

“Often, agencies look at marketing decision-makers and their organizations from a demographic perspective,” says Susan Baier, whose company Audience Audit conducted the segmentation research. “But we found that their attitudes are much more relevant than their demographics when it comes to the roles they want their agencies to play, how they find and choose the agencies they work with, and the aspects of agencies they find most valuable (and most frustrating).”

The research, engaging 271 decision-makers in organizations with marketing budgets of $1 million or less, resulted in three segments:

  •     “Looking for Love” (29% of respondents) segment value agencies as a critical partner for business success. For this group, agencies are a key participant in strategic planning efforts, a trusted source of new ideas and insights about marketing trends, and a tactical partner across a wide range of marketing services and expertise. They feel it’s important to develop a long-term relationship with an agency, and expect that if their agency doesn’t have an answer they’ll know where to find it.
  •     “Playing the Field” (38% of respondents) segment sees hiring a marketing or advertising agency as a necessary evil to gain specialized expertise. They prefer to work with subject matter experts, and feel it’s important to change agencies periodically even if they’re doing a good job.
  •     “Single and Satisfied” (33% of respondents) segment feels their organizations are fairly self-sufficient when it comes to marketing. They believe that they have clear marketing plans and know exactly what they want. When they do use agencies for strategy, it’s as a source of ideas that can be executed by the organization in-house.

The report shows how these decision-maker segments view their challenges, their marketing activities/needs and what they spend, how they work with agencies, their views on agency compensation and finding and hiring the agency that is right for them.

“In working with clients like Agency Management Institute and Audience Audit, we understand how important it is to help them find the exact right respondents,” says Roseanne Luth, CEO of Luth Research, a digital market research firm who provided the qualified target market for the study. “For us, that’s the exciting part – getting it just right.”

“The most surprising results had to do with the segments and their view on the concept of agency of record. They also told us, loud and clear, what agencies should start doing and stop doing,” notes McLellan. “All the segments are wanting better and more communication as well as transparency and control over their costs. Equally aligned, all segments want agencies to stop being pushy.”

McLellan adds that there is something for everyone in the report. All agencies, big and small, can learn something from the results. The complete report and a supporting infographic can be found at

About the Agency Management Institute
The Agency Management Institute (AMI) offers agency management training, consulting and facilitates agency owner peer networks for small to mid-sized agencies (advertising, digital, marketing, media and PR) so they can increase their AGI by at least 25%, attract better clients and employees and best of all — exceed the agency owner’s life/financial goals.

About Audience Audit
Audience Audit’s mind-blowing custom attitudinal segmentation research is built specifically for small- to mid-sized marketing agencies, and affordable for even small business clients. Their work allows agencies to substantiate their recommendations with real data, build better strategies with less effort, develop more effective messaging, improve the results they achieve for clients and generate more agency new business.
About Luth Research
For more than 35 years, Luth Research has been advancing next generation consumer intelligence with innovative market research approaches. Powered by our proprietary online research panel and cross-platform digital tracking capabilities, as well as traditional focus group and call center services, our innovative research methods help today’s businesses thrive.

About Drew McLellan
In addition to owning and operating AMI, Drew McLellan has worked in advertising for 25+ years and started his own agency, McLellan Marketing Group in 1995 after a five-year stint at Y&R. McLellan launched his agency's blog in 2006 and it has been on the AdAge Top 150 from the list's inception. His first book, 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing, was published in 2003. McLellan and Australian marketer Gavin Heaton created the Age of Conversation series of crowdsourced books in 2007. To date, the AOC series has raised over $50,000 for charity. He launched the AMI blog in 2012 as a resource to agency leaders.

About Susan Baier
Baier is the President and founder of Audience Audit Inc., and the only person you know who can say "quantitative attitudinal audience segmentation" three times fast. Her expertise is built on more than 25 years in product and brand management, marketing, market research and strategic planning with Fortune 100 firms and small companies. She works with agencies to gain transformational insights into the attitudes, motivations and needs of their clients' customers and prospects. Baier has provided custom insights for Gap, AT&T, World Trade Centers Association, Sears, Tufts University, Beatport, Infusionsoft, ULTA, and many others.

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Brooke Benschoter, APR

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