Agency work: how much is it respected, how much is it valued and when to ask for more?

As far as marketing agencies are concerned, the current situation has created a number of new topics that are widely discussed. However, there are some questions among them that would be relavant even without a pandemic, and with them comes a special expression: How much is agency work valued?

Within the seventh regional forum of communication leaders, Izazov 2021, a special discussion organized by the agency DRIVE is dedicated to this topic: To what extent does the relationship between the agency's reimbursement coincide with the results of that work? When to start negotiations on a fee increases? When is the time to ensure independence from large clients, whose departure can often end the entire work of the agency?

“Communication channels are more active than ever, but no additional investment can make up for losses in marketing agencies. They work harder, they invest immeasurably more creative work, but the reality is that the fees are less. There is a feeling that this work is not valued enough, or is valued - and certainly poorly paid ", concluded at the beginning of the discussion the panel moderator and director of the agency DRIVE, Danka Trbojevic.

While the area of ‚Äč‚Äčadvertising may seem to be calming down at the moment, on the regional stage clients and agencies may have become more dynamic than ever - a huge number of ideas are being offered, although budgets on both sides have been dramatically revised. When it comes to certain campaigns, the director of marketing and PR at Vojvodjanska banka and OTP Group, Milena Micanovic, cites the example of the "metamorphosis" of the sponsorship campaign of the Serbian Olympic Committee, which had to give another purpose to cancel the Olympic Games overnight:

"At first we were a little desperate, and then we got together (laughs) and tried to reverse the plans based on the Olympics and such communication. We looked at how we could help everyone affected by the crisis, primarily focusing on health workers, so we reoriented the campaign in that direction. and activated all our Olympians in direct support of health. "

Agencies, as well as their clients, are capable of such adjustments when it comes to creative solutions, and given the rather increased workload, it would be logical to ensure an appropriate fee adjustment. However, is this happening in reality? Communis DDB CEO Bojan Stankov believes that this is possible if market conditions, client budget and planned workload for the current year match. All of this is currently questionable, and a number of smaller, narrowly specialized agencies appear on the market, ready to work for a smaller budget:

"This job is a living being, it breathes, we certainly have the look of a smaller agency in terms of the number of people and the specifics of the job, that's normal. It's up to clients to understand the pros and cons, and it's up to agencies to prove themselves. Any kind of competition is healthy and can pull agencies out of lethargy and make them better than themselves.As far as the budget is concerned, it is a matter of experience and recognition as far as the agency is willing to go. Agencys certainly need to have a consensus on prices, and on the other hand, clients should be aware that the cheapest solution does not have to be the best. "

The interlocutors see a potential solution in the formation of a strong regulatory body that will fight for the progress of the industry:

"Associations exist, but they do not deal enough with this topic. Individuals at the market level explore opportunities, but they lack the support of all of us, so we know what someone needs. I have the impression that we all work for ourselves, and through associations we can explore more regional markets - that is the only way to raise everything we do to a higher level ", explains Marija Joksimovic, director of SVA New Concept. 

At the end of the panel, participants discussed the phenomenon of "one huge client" and the potential dependence on it. A great success, but often a stumbling block for marketing agencies, the client on whom her business and general business depend is not the best solution. Aleksandra Dilevska, Director of COO Adriatic, Publicis Group for Croatia and Northern Macedonia, notes that agencies today must be agile, without "sleeping" to work for a strong client who may decide to replace them tomorrow for any number of reasons:

It is important not to stop, but to ensure the continuous "blood flow" of the agency. We all dream of a portfolio that still depends on the market, clients and expertise, and that is why we need to have large and medium-sized clients, diversify the portfolio, run different campaigns and increase expertise. In every “relationship” you have to be fresh, with new knowledge and not think in the direction of “we are safe”. You don’t have to be a big agency, you can be specialized, but tactics for the big ones are a lot of drinks, recommendations, and various engagements. "

 Is agency work valued? Panelists certainly believe it is, but the assessment varies from case to case. It is easiest to say that someone is underpaid and overvalued, and the real truth is that, with all the troubles of the previous year, a great hope has awakened that clients will take care not only of themselves, but also of the agencies in which they work.

The fact is that companies in most cases decide to invest in marketing initiatives and projects and in that case get a lower price, which is generally a problem faced by both agencies and clients.

 In the end, to the vast majority of people in this profession, on both sides, it is quite clear that it is no longer “I” but “we” and how all factors of an industry can survive in given circumstances and smoothly realize their ideas into successful, meaningful and in every sence of the term (even financially) valued campaigns.