It is too early to know what marketing agencies’ balance sheets will look like on 31 December, but there have been some signs that borrowing levels have stabilised. A survey published in October suggested that balance sheets of most publicly listed marketing groups appeared to have remained fairly stable during 2011 despite the gloomy economic environment, and that trend seems to have continued.
A similar picture emerged among privately owned agencies in the “Private Plums” survey that reported: “There has been no overall increase in the number of companies that relied on borrowings.”
There have been casualties of course, but most of the survivors seem in fairly good shape. So in this season of goodwill, what would help agencies if Santa Claus could bring it in his sack?
Top of the list would almost certainly be some economic growth – particularly if evidenced by consumer spending. Secondly might be the delivery of even more imaginative and commercially aware creative teams.
Thirdly and closely allied with the second, would be more cultural emphasis on working as a “partnership” so that talented employees feel more valued and part of the decision-making process (and therefore less likely to leave). Fourthly, more clients who understand that they will normally only get what they pay for and that, while macho antics by their procurement managers may produce short-term financial benefits, they will almost certainly lead to a longer term deterioration in the quality of their agencies’ marketing contributions.
And finally, we would welcome a gift of a bit more happiness generally – not just a Happy Christmas, but a very Happy Ever After! And that seems an appropriate note on which to sign off the last of these blogs.
Bob Willott is editor of “Marketing Services Financial Intelligence”