Canvassing both ad agencies and marketers, RSW/US has just released its 2014 business development outlook and it points out trends that agencies would be smart to heed.

My advice: Take out your freshly minted business development plan for the year and see if it needs to be tweaked based on the report's insights. The big take-aways for me:

  • Referrals are still the number one way that agencies get new business leads - keep those relationships fresh!
  • Second most likely way a marketer will discover a new agency is through good old fashioned emails and calls so make sure you are allocating sufficient time and resources to agency outreach.
  • Specialization/differentiation is increasingly important to marketers - it helps them discern which, of the thousands of agencies out there, are right for them.
  • Jury is out among agencies as to the effectiveness of inbound content marketing (e.g., blogs) but that may be more an indication of agencies' lack of commitment to maintaining a consistent inbound marketing program.

The study can be found here: