From behind a two-way mirror this evening I observed a 90 minute focus group. It consisted of representatives of digital agencies — mostly larger agencies. It was interesting to hear them discuss their digital marketing challenges and pain points.
They spoke about the challenges of dealing with clients that were not sufficiently educated or were conflicted about their priorities and objectives. They discussed organizational challenges with different internal groups not coordinating their efforts or working together smoothly. Despite their size they also spoke about not having sufficient resources to do what they needed to do.
Yet I was most struck by their complaints about their inability to clearly distinguish the different vendors and solutions in the market. Their statements reflected pervasive confusion and noise that we all now confront.
They also said they didn’t feel they had sufficient visibility into what was working or most effective. They had challenges demonstrating ROI to clients and connecting the dots between ads and sales.
Amid all the similar-sounding yet competing companies and claims, they convey the impression that they don’t know whom to believe or trust. It was difficult for them to get objective information, notwithstanding the market being awash in data. They also didn’t appear to know as much as they claimed they knew and were relying on vendors for education, which was a source of some frustration.
For the most part this is exactly the position that most small businesses are in:
- They want and need education
- They don’t know exactly what’s working and it’s difficult for them to gauge ROI
- They are bombarded by pitches that all sound similar
- They don’t know whom to trust and so don’t trust most digital marketing providers they encounter (or even work with)
Clearly there are digital agencies that are doing great work and that are highly sophisticated. But to what extent do you think these things I’ve said above are representative of digital agencies generally?
I was quite surprised to hear some of the things I heard and I’m wondering how much I can extrapolate to the larger agency universe.