The marketing landscape is ever-changing, and it can be difficult to keep up. Even if you’ve been in the industry for years, there are always new trends emerging and and methods evolving.
Those who continue learning and growing will never fall too far behind, but that doesn't mean they won’t face obstacles along the way. Below, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council share the biggest industry challenges they’ve faced this past year and how they plan to use that knowledge moving forward.
1. A Changing Corporate Climate
The biggest challenge as a marketing agency that has developed over the past year is watching as corporate positions fill up the digital marketing organization spaces that we dominated as agencies in the previous decade. We believe the opportunity that we’ve had in the past five years will be gone. Rather than fighting this change, we are positioning our firm to assist digital officers as a resource. - Evangeline Sutton, Regenerative Marketing LLC
2. The Impact Of Influencers
We have worked with journalists who were bound by the ethics of journalism to tell both sides of a story for nearly 30 years. Now we are working with influencers with large audiences on social media. The problem in evaluating influencers is who they are being paid by, whether they expect to be paid by our clients and what the deliverables will be if they share our clients’ stories and photos. - Nancy Marshall, Marshall Communications
3. Greater Demand For Personalization
The desire for brands to get more personal in communications continues to grow and presents new challenges. In our business, where email marketing is a big part of what we do, we plan to facilitate more personalization through partnerships with companies such as Conversica, which offers an AI attendant that assists in engaging, qualifying and converting more leads for our clients. - Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
4. Maintaining Our Buying Power
We made many systematic changes in 2018 to welcome industry changes. In the planning stages, we updated our systems and training materials. We didn’t, however, fully prepare for the level of attention required to regulate our relationships with suppliers as we grow. When picking suppliers, we learned to check for cues that can help us identify those who can grow and meet our changing priorities. - Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing
5. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
GDPR was a big industry growing pain; however, having the operations and processes in place to adhere to this regulation make the California Consumer Privacy Act less daunting. It has also opened up a healthy dialog about data, privacy and useful customization across a variety of sectors. - Kieley Taylor, GroupM
6. Standing Out From Our Competitors
Our industry is legal marketing and website design. In our area, we have seen lots of competition come into the market. We plan to face this challenge by producing more educational documents and continuing to set our firm out as industry thought leaders. - Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
7. Balancing Personalization With Data Privacy
Creating a truly personalized experience while adhering to data privacy and industry regulations proves to be a challenge, like trying to hit a moving target. As we go forward we will be leveraging journey orchestration technology to deliver more relevant customer experiences and a deeper level of personalization than ever before, treating privacy laws as an opportunity to build trust along the way. - Justin Grossman, meltmedia
8. Facebook’s Sponsored Content Changes
At the start of 2018 Facebook once again changed their rules on sponsored content, dramatically shifting how we did business for our clients. We pivoted and ended up with a solution that is exceeding results from before the change. While we’re thrilled with this outcome, we know that we will need to continue to be agile when it comes to 2019, as major platform updates seem to be the new normal. - Danielle Wiley, Sway Group
9. Educating Clients On New Trends
Influencers have become our clients’ nirvana, even though they most often don’t understand how this new “species” works. We have been educating them and pondering their expectations so they know what they can get and how, and what the difference is between an editor, a blogger and an influencer. Parts of our request for proposal now will be dedicated to some education about it. - Sarah Hamon, S2H Communication
10. Addressing The Industry’s Fraud Issue
Transparency continues to be a critical need as the advertising industry recovers from digital ad fraud. We’re heading off potential distrust from clients by being up front about our commitment to fostering an ethical culture at our agency. After applying for and winning an Integrity award from the Better Business Bureau, we now have an independent third party confirming that commitment. - Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative
11. Keeping Up With Emerging Platforms
One of the biggest issues out there is making sure that we know about all of the most recent changes to platforms and to content that needs to be made and consumed. One of the most important things is finding the right content and the right platform. That means that it is very important to ensure that you are using the right platform for the right age group that you are working with. - Jon James, Ignited Results
12. Casting A Wider Net
In 2018, we found that the long-term retainer model didn’t work well for certain smaller startup clients, so we developed a project-based program to allow younger brands to experience our services without committing to a long-term relationship. The program has proven a great success and has given companies the opportunity to achieve public relations and social media goals without an ongoing commitment. - Leslie Licano, Beyond Fifteen Communications Inc.
13. Collecting And Analyzing Data
The amount of data continues to expand exponentially. Programming technology and analytics with a machine learning/artificial intelligence component is and will continue to be key because it will become too much for humans to process in a timely or cost-effective way. - Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC
14. Ensuring Consumer Data Safety And Privacy
Changes in privacy regulations such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act are impacting how marketing is done. Consumers expect to know what data is collected and to be able to choose what solutions can and can’t collect their data. Marketers must now be diligent at ensuring safety and giving customers the privacy they deserve while delivering meaningful and optimal customer experience. - Alex Yastrebenetsky, InfoTrust
15. Finding The Right Media Tracking Tools
Our media team did a complete analysis of all optimization and tracking tools on the market to confirm best-in-category practices and results. It was an important, but time-consuming, process. We found some brand-new assets in some niche pockets that will help our clients even more. We now need to tell that story in the year ahead in a simple way without giving away the store up front. - Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding