Marketing & Strategy

Key Agency Trends Shaped by the After-Effects of 2020

By: Brooke Snelling, Partner/Director of Client Services

Last year, the pandemic caused seismic shifts within most industries — it shook up the status quo and challenged companies to think differently in terms of the way they did business. Now that they are somewhat out of survival mode and slowly getting back on their feet, companies are taking stock of the adjustments that were made last year. They are realizing that some of these changes actually allowed their business to operate more effectively and could be more than just an ad-hoc solution.

Let’s take a look at a few agency trends that were started or accelerated in response to the pandemic last year and are continuing well into 2021. After reading how these trends have benefited other leading companies, you may consider embracing them as well for your business, if you haven’t done so already.

A New Way of Working with Agency Partners

The pandemic forced companies to reassess the approach they take when working with their agencies in the following ways:

1. Specialties and Experience > Location
Even before COVID hit, some companies were becoming less and less concerned about location as it related to their partners. Now that the new remote working landscape has become widely accepted for employees, more companies are applying the same attitude towards their agency partners and location is practically becoming a non-factor all-around.

Brands are recognizing that a partner’s area of expertise and experience rank higher in importance than location and are more willingly to work with a company situated more than 200 miles away.

2. Ditching the Dreaded RFP Process
Working on RFP’s is extremely laborious, not just for the agencies responding, but also for the companies issuing them. It is time-consuming and stressful process for company execs who in 2020 were already pressed for time and stressed to the max. As a result, many organizations (apart from government and higher education entities that are mandated to issue RFP’s) chose to eschew the RFP process entirely. Rather, they selected their agency of record by identifying 2-3 companies with the necessary skills, specialties and knowledge base, interviewed them, and may have even assigned them with pro bono or project work to gauge their capabilities.

3. Narrowing Down the Number of Partner Agencies
Not surprisingly, the pandemic brought about slashed budgets which led to companies cutting back on the number of agencies they work with. However, even with this decrease, brands are still able to reap the benefits of their remaining partners collaborating and playing nice with each other by recognizing the value everyone brings to the table. This ultimately drives integrated strategies that tie back to the overarching business and marketing goals.

4. The Increased Importance of Partners Maximizing Budgets
Even though company execs are working with smaller or frozen budgets and a reduced staff, they are still expected to do more with less. So now more than ever, it is vital that businesses can count on their agency partners to help them get the most bang for their buck. Brands are placing greater significance on ensuring their agencies are demonstrating good financial stewardship of their budgets by holding third-party vendors to their contracts, aggressively negotiating rates and added values, and receiving multiple bids, amongst other tactics.

Marketing Services and Products Seeing a Continued Surge in 2021

Several types of services and products saw a rise and increased focus in 2020; below are some that will continue to do so in 2021.

1. Top-Level Consulting on Social Issues Marketing
These days, we live in an advocacy-driven world in which a brand’s values and its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) track record play a major factor in whether consumers will support the company. Even prior to last year, companies recognized the importance of promoting their corporate values and demonstrating their stances on key social and political issues. However, the social unrest of 2020 brought social issues marketing to the forefront of the conversation and many more brands are turning to their agencies for counsel on how best to navigate this sensitive terrain authentically and in a way that is aligned with their brand ethos.

2. High-Impact Direct Mail
With consumers spending more time at home in 2020, they were checking their mailboxes more frequently and paying closer attention to what they received. Agencies took notice and used this as an opportunity to step up their direct mail game. They developed high impact direct mailers that took a holistic approach to target and engage with consumers through specialized landing pages, retargeting, etc. This has proven to be effective and profitable for companies, and industry leaders are predicting this is a trend that will last well into 2022.

Additional marketing services and products trending in popularity in 2021 include:
• Hybrid of Virtual and Live Events
• Shoppable Posts and Livestreaming
• Enhanced Loyalty and Retention Programs
• Ratings and Reviews Programs

How well a business capitalizes on marketing and agency trends can make or break it, so staying ahead of the curve is key to getting ahead of the competition. MassMedia serves as the eyes and ears for brands when it comes to new and existing trends. Contact us today for more information!

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