Why Agency Culture Should Matter To Marketers

Sarah Sikowitz

Marketers often voice their frustration to me about the rate of turnover at their agencies.  It is hard to lose a great team member, but it’s more difficult to be left holding the bag for bringing someone new up to speed on the business. 

And this happens frequently. Agencies compete with each other, tech companies, startups and brands to attract and retain the best employees. Many use culture as a differentiator in the talent wars.  In fact, 77% of agencies we surveyed listed culture as a way to engage and retain employees.  Even with these efforts, agencies suffer from low employee morale and rising employee turnover. 

For this reason, it’s critical for marketers to pay attention to an agency’s efforts towards building and nurturing its culture.  Marketers that build this evaluation into the agency vetting process and look for a cultural fit will experience less turnover on accounts, higher quality work and a better relationship with their agency.

And agencies that connect leadership behavior, hiring efforts, employee engagement and new business efforts to culture will build working environments that attract and retain talent, while delivering superior client experience.

Read Ignore Your Agency's Culture At Your Own Risk to learn more and reach out to me if you’d like to learn more about how to integrate a culture assessment into your agency search or relationship.


Will Dentsu Seize The Opportunity With Merkle?

Sarah Sikowitz

This post is co-authored by Shar VanBoskirk, VP and principal analyst at Forrester

On Monday, holding company Dentsu Aegis announced that it acquired a majority stake in Merkle, which is known for its CRM, data, and digital marketing capabilities. Logistically, this acquisition allows Merkle to increase its international presence, while beefing up Dentsu’s US coverage and allowing it to diversify outside of Japan. This acquisition is also important because Merkle was one of the last large independent agencies, which leaves slim pickings for marketers hoping to work with an agency not subject to holding-company rule (read: less autonomy, less entrepreneurial). 

Dentsu Aegis is not unique in its acquisition of a data/CRM agency. All of the other holding companies have them too (WPP has Wunderman, Publicis has Rosetta [now Razorfish Global], IPG has The Hacker Agency, Omnicom has Rapp and Targetbase). This is because “customer relationship management” has broadened beyond direct mail and email marketing to include loyalty initiatives, ownership experiences, data strategy/modeling and technology integration — critical data and insights solutions for holding companies to provide to their clients. 

With reported 2015 revenue at $436 million, Merkle will be Dentsu’s fourth-largest agency, behind Dentsu (the agency), Carat, and Isobar. With this move, we think that Dentsu’s should make CRM and data-driven marketing the centerpiece of its agency strategy — not just an additional services offering. 

This is a smart move, given that:

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