Agencies face a number of challenges in 2023, from shifting consumer behaviors to increased competition and changing technology trends, that will impact the way they operate and do business. As the world of advertising, marketing and public relations continues to evolve rapidly, agency leaders must be prepared to adapt and innovate if they want to stay ahead of the curve.
Here, 15 Forbes Agency Council members offer their insights on some of the biggest challenges that their agencies will face this year, as well as how they plan to overcome them. Whether it’s embracing new technologies or building stronger relationships with clients, their strategies can help other agencies succeed in 2023 and beyond.
1. Lean Budgets
The triple whammy of skyrocketing labor costs, the challenges of leading a hybrid remote team and a tightening economy that is forcing clients to question every budget line item has proven to be a challenge. We have worked hard on culture and quarterly gatherings for leadership, and we are focused on delivering value to clients to justify our budgets, knowing it will be a leaner year. – Dan Kahn, Kahn Media, Inc.
2. Client Retention
Our biggest challenge will be retaining clients as the global economy shifts and many B2B tech brands make cuts to their team. We’re doing this by focusing on client advocacy and launching a dedicated client care program. We’ll be running frequent events, offering training and much more to help our clients through these difficult times. – Kathryn Strachan, CopyHouse
3. Pricing Pressures
When economic fears are at play, pricing pressures are always an issue. We try to remain flexible while still focusing on creating good work. Our preparation for this has already happened by recruiting a talented team, being financially healthy and keeping our clients happy. Still, I expect we’ll get more requests for proposals from brands hoping for more flexible terms, and we’re up for it. – Christine Wetzler, Pietryla PR & Marketing
4. Measurement Of PR
Measurement of PR continues to be challenging for B2B public relations. While the industry favors share of voice and other PR-centric measurement technologies, board-level decision makers often don’t understand these abstract concepts. We have created a tool that evaluates the impact that coverage is having on business development. Showing the board where investment in PR impacts the bottom line is very powerful. – Richard Cook, Champion Communications Ltd.
5. AI-Generated Content
The artificial intelligence frenzy has begun, and companies will think they can save time and money by letting apps create content for them. Having an experienced human at the helm of AI will be critical. I am entrenching myself in all the new tools and getting prepared to use them. Denial is not a strategy! – Nancy A Shenker, theONswitch
6. Client-Facing Data Quality
While our current reporting is exceptionally thorough and transparent, we are placing a laser focus on ways to level up the data we share with our clients. We are reviewing technology partners carefully to ensure we are investing in the very latest in measurement and analytics. This will give our clients the data they need. – Cooper Munroe, The Motherhood Inc.
Our biggest challenge this year is staying competitive in the ever-changing landscape of Amazon agency services. We will approach this by continuing to invest in our team, diversifying our services and staying ahead of the curve when it comes to emerging trends in the industry. We also plan to maintain close communication with our clients so that we can better understand their needs. – Denny Smolinski, beBOLD Digital
8. Google Advertising
Our biggest challenge is, without a doubt, generating a positive ROI on Google advertising. Google itself has now become a competitor to advertisers. The Google ad platform has gotten so complicated, with many pitfalls and a lack of handling bot traffic. Google is also replacing Google Analytics with a subpar product (GA4), in many agencies’ opinions. We need to roll up our sleeves! – T. Maxwell, eMaximize
9. Shifting Social Media Platforms
As an agency focused on influencer marketing, it’s our ongoing challenge to navigate the ever-shifting social platforms on which our business is based. Just as in years past, our most important job in 2023 is to help our clients make the best choices when it comes to social media outreach, which includes continually dedicating resources to identify best-practice platforms and content trends. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group
10. Creating Engaging, Noninvasive Ad Campaigns
Our biggest challenge in 2023 is creating ad campaigns that are engaging without being invasive. Today’s consumers have higher expectations for the ads they see, and are quick to reject messages that interfere with their user experience. We plan to address this by focusing on utilizing more data-driven insights to create tailored ad campaigns that seamlessly integrate into their user experience. – Adam Binder, Creative Click Media
11. Market Education
It’s sad, but the legal marketing industry is particularly gross. Our approach remains the same: help lawyers understand their options. We work really hard not to bash competitors. Instead, we try to teach lawyers how to hire the right agency for them. This includes questions to ask, business practices to avoid and metrics to manage. – Gyi Tsakalakis, AttorneySync & EPL Digital
12. True Differentiation
Our biggest challenge this year is creating true differentiation from other agencies. Every agency’s website pitch is a sea of sameness. We have spent the last year not only re-articulating our agency brand but the types of clients who are best served by our unique approach. Sometimes it is hard to accept that you are not the right agency for everybody—but you are somebody’s dream partner. – Kevin Moehlenkamp, Garrand Moehlenkamp
13. Influencer Marketing
One of the primary challenges is convincing clients of the proficiency and efficacy of influencer marketing as a promotional channel. To emphasize the indispensable role of influencers, we have devised a consulting service that caters to clients who are nascent in this domain. This service will enable them to evaluate and determine the impact of influencer marketing as a medium. – Michael Kuzminov, HypeFactory
14. Managing Rapid Growth
Our greatest challenge is managing quick growth during uncertain times. We hear the whispers of recession, but we’re experiencing a post-pandemic growth spurt. Also, we have emerging technologies, such as ChatGPT and other AI tools, that we are quickly learning and incorporating into our tool sets. We have new clients, new team members and new tools. Our focus is to stay nimble while ensuring quality within our team and in our deliverables. – Monica Alvarez-Mitchell, Pulse Creative, LLC
15. Employee Connectedness In Remote Work
Balancing remote work and employee connectedness is important. As the world continues to get back to normal operations, employees still want flexibility. Maintaining company priorities while employees enjoy work-life balance is key. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC
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