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Call us for a chat on +44 (0)20 7836 3678 or email Amanda Francis


Best sectors for new business by marketing discipline

Top line summary:

Following the recent positive feedback from our last White Paper which looked at why prospects agree to meet with creative, strategic and digital agencies, we decided to cut the new business cake a slightly different way and analyse success rates within the most widely targeted markets by our clients in 2011.

Success is determined for us and our 60 clients in several ways – the greatest of which is winning new projects and clients. For the purposes of this analysis we focused on our ability to set quality meetings for our clients with the right decision maker at the right kind of company where there is a current or future need for the services our clients offer.

We took the overall conversion rate (defined as setting a quality meeting from a number of decision maker conversations and represented as a percentage) from each of the 11 most widely called markets in 2011 (see the table below) and compared this overall conversion rate to the conversion rates by marketing discipline. We concluded that any discipline showing an above average conversion rate for that market was deemed to be well received by the decision makers in that market. For example, if the average conversion rate within leisure overall was 8%, and a digital offer within leisure was 9.5%, then we concluded that digital was well received within leisure.

This is a good indicator of the receptiveness of these markets to these offers, but is only based on our calling activity this year and isn’t a defining piece of research. There are a number of other contributory factors that influence the success of the call, including the agency’s relevant clients/case studies, specific proposition etc.

New business campaigns are most effective when the marketing services/disciplines offered are the ones a prospect wants/needs. We would recommend that targeting is based on one or more of the following key factors:

  1. Those markets where the agency has in-depth experience (eg. retail, leisure, fmcg)
  2. Those companies who are facing the kind of challenges/problems that the agency has experience of solving (eg. decreasing footfall)
  3. Those companies who target specific demographic groups who the agency has experience of communicating with (eg. youth)
  4. Those companies who are most receptive to certain types of solutions (eg. search, social media)

Here is a table of the 11 most frequently called markets this year based on a total of 107,000 calls made to prospective clients.

The percentages reflect the amount of calling we’ve made to each of these markets – the remaining 28% of our calling is split between other markets such as Automotive, Building & Property and B2B.

Market sector Percentage of calling
Retail 12.2%
Top 1000 Corporates 10.7%
FMCG 10.0%
Leisure 6.2%
Clothing 5.2%
Financial Services 5.0%
Travel & Transport 4.8%
Home 4.7%
IT/Telecomms 4.6%
FTSE 250 4.5%
Professional Services 4.3%

Comparison to 2007:

When we compared these most frequently called markets in 2011 to our calling in the same period in 2007, in pre-recession times, there are some interesting observations which reflect the market as a whole:

  1. There is more calling now in those markets relying on consumer discretionary spend compared to 4 years ago; markets such as leisure, youth, travel and luxury
  2. There is less calling now than in 2007 in high value, business related/long term investment areas; for example, finance, automotive, IT and property are all significantly down in terms of calling compared to 2007
  3. Some markets remain constant irrespective of what’s happening in the economy, for example food & drink. There is no significant difference between the amount of calling we did in 2007 versus the amount of calling we did in 2011 in fmcg.
  4. Interestingly though, although basic brands remain almost recession proof, retailers are fighting for business and need to differentiate themselves through a range of marketing channels. This is reflected in the number of calls made to retailers this year which is twice the amount in 2007.

Our bespoke software that drives our database enables us to look at the main disciplines within each of these market sectors and analyse the conversion rates from decision maker conversations to setting a quality meeting.

Here are the main disciplines that we used in this analysis:

Marketing discipline Includes Percentage of calling
Creative Advertising, Design, Branding, Graphic Design 23.8%
Below-the- line Direct Marketing, Sales Promotion, Experiential, Live Events 17.5%
Digital Design & Build, Search, Social Marketing 13.4%
Market Research Qual, Quant 11.1%
Corporate communications Annual Reports, Internal Communications 8.8%
Integrated/Full service 8.7%
PR 3.6%

The percentages next to each marketing discipline represent the breakdown of our calling on behalf of these disciplines since 1st January 2011. The remaining 13% of calling is divided amongst other specialist disciplines such as retail design and media buying.

We have summarised our findings in two ways:

  1. By market sector – for example, if you’re looking to target financial services, which disciplines/services are most likely to have traction within that market, thereby making it easier for us to set quality meetings for you
  2. By discipline/service offer – in other words, if you’re a digital agency, which markets are most receptive to your offer

Please don’t forget that this research is limited to our client base and to our calling in the markets listed above on behalf of the disciplines listed above and is by no means intended to reflect the entire market. However, it is based on some robust statistics from our database.

Another caveat is that the lines between disciplines are becoming more and more blurred; for example, in the table above, it states that 13.4% of our calling activity this year has been on behalf of digital as a discipline – this is only part of the story as most creative and integrated agencies will also offer digital as part of their overall proposition. The 13.4% refers to those exclusively digital agencies we represent.

Summary by market:
Clothing: (includes accessories, footwear, men’s, women’s and youth clothing – both retail and brands)

The disciplines that are currently being well received in the clothing market are creative, digital, integrated and research. Any brand or retailer will be using all of these disciplines to help them understand their target demographic better and communicate with them via the most effective and relevant channels.

Financial Services: (includes banks, building societies, health insurance, fund managers etc)

This continues to be a tough market to penetrate as decision makers within finance companies prefer to meet agencies with in-depth experience in their market. However, this isn’t as important as it was 4-5 years ago and they now like to meet agencies with experience of other markets as this can bring alternative thinking to their marketplace.

The most successful discipline in finance is research as it is widely used by the major banks and building societies seeking to understand their consumers better. For example, tier two companies in this market are looking to take advantage of the criticisms being levelled at the big boys and are therefore looking to run customer satisfaction surveys.

We have also helped our clients secure business from smaller companies within this market, such as fund managers.

FMCG: (includes food and drink, personal care, pet food, household products)

Although this is difficult market to get through to decision makers (partly because a lot of agencies are keen to work with consumer brands and so voicemail is a common problem and equally because decision makers change jobs fairly regularly in this market) this continues to be a fertile market across all disciplines, particularly in digital, sales promotion, research and packaging design. Research is particularly important for early product and campaign development.

The increase in BOGOFs and price led promotions has been used by FMCG brands to sustain sales during the recession. This is reducing their profit margins and can cheapen the brand; customers get used to buying the product for less and then stop buying it when the price returns to its previous level. Brand owners are therefore looking for ways to promote their brands whilst at the same time boosting the value of the brand, thereby justifying charging a premium price. Thus, they are looking to work with agencies who can deliver value added or partnership campaigns/promotions.

FTSE 250/Top 1000 corporates:

These lists obviously have a mix of companies from all markets, so it’s quite difficult to draw any firm conclusions.

We often target these larger companies as we know that they have the right kinds of budgets. However, a fair percentage of these top 1000 corporates will have been covered off by the statistics from the other market sectors.

Integrated, creative, research and below-the-line (particularly DM and Live Events) seem to fare best in this market. We have also helped our clients win business from corporate/stakeholder communications in this market, helped by having an angle, such as sustainability.

Home: (includes consumer electronics, home improvements, gardening, white goods etc)

Generally a receptive market all round with all the disciplines doing well, particularly creative and BTL. The only exception in this market is research (due to our current research clients not prioritising this market)

IT/Telecommunications: (includes a range of businesses including Dixons, Ericsson, Garmin, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Motorola and Nokia)

The service offers with the most traction in this marketplace are Direct Marketing, Channel Marketing and Research. Research is always needed in a highly competitive market and a lot of IT/Telecomms related products and vendors use DM.

Success in this area tends to be with the commercial/consumer end of this market rather than with hardware/software vendors for example.

Leisure: (includes bingo, cinemas, gyms, pubs, restaurants and attractions)

This has been a productive market for our clients over the past 2 years with a significant number of the wins we’ve generated for our clients coming from this sector. The core disciplines with most resonance in our study are all of them except PR (again, this is probably due to the fact that we haven’t done much calling in this market on behalf of our PR clients.)

A key discipline for this market not mentioned in our list in retail design consultancy who do very well in the leisure market, branding and designing bars, restaurants etc.

The biggest issue for the UK leisure market is how to capture a larger portion of people who are staying in England for their holidays, thus they are particularly interested in agencies who can help them build loyalty and get repeat visits, which will involve DM and digital marketing.

It’s really important for restaurants for example to stand out on the High Street with better branding and signage for example, thus the need for retail design specialists and leisure branding experts.

Professional Services: (including accountants, civil engineers, management consultants, solicitors and representative bodies)

The most productive calls in this market are on behalf of creative, BTL and corporate communications agencies. This is probably because traditional B2B firms such as Accountants still have a need for traditional paper based communications/sales tools such as brochures and direct marketing.

Retail: (includes department stores, online retailers, supermarkets, mail order, off licenses)

This is another productive market for our clients across most disciplines, particularly creative, below-the-line, corporate communications, digital and research. Again, specialist retail design consultancies (although not in our core list) do well in this market, unsurprisingly!

The main issues for retailers are the changing habits and behaviours of consumers, for example, UK shoppers have spent £31.5 billion online so far this year, which is up 19% on last year.

Retailers therefore need to rethink how to understand and communicate with their consumers, thus the constant need for research. They need to embrace multi-channel marketing such as digital, social media, m:commerce, thus why they are receptive to meeting digital and social marketing agencies. They also need to constantly improve the shopping experience such as pop up stores, interactive window displays, thus why they are receptive to seeing genuinely creative agencies.

Success in this market also tends to come from agencies with a specialism, such as POS or local marketing.

Travel & Transport: (includes airlines, airports, trains, hotels, tourist boards and travel agents). The most effective disciplines in these markets, resulting in us setting a quality meeting for our clients to attend are BTL and research.

Summary by marketing discipline:

Here is the same information but presented by discipline. I have extended the discipline list to include, for example, Direct Marketing separately from the overall BTL discipline, whilst still keeping BTL as a discipline. I have also added in others like retail design and packaging design

I have added in some additional markets such as Automotive and Building & Property for example where there was a significant trend. 

Discipline Most productive market sectors
Below the Line FMCG, FTSE 250, Home, Leisure, Retail, Top 1000, Travel
Branding Building & Property, Retail, Leisure
Corporate Communications Building & Property, B2B, Home, Representative Bodies, Retail,  Utilities
Design Building & Property, B2B, Clothing, FMCG, IT/Telecomms, Luxury Goods, Media, Professional Services, Public Sector, Representative Bodies, Retail,  Youth
Digital Automotive, Clothing, Financial Services, Home, Leisure, Luxury Goods, Media, Mother, Baby & Child, Retail, Travel, Youth,
Direct Marketing Automotive, FTSE 250, Home, IT/Telecomms, Leisure, Retail, Top 1000
Integrated/Full Service FMCG, Healthcare, Leisure, Pharmaceutical
Live Events Automotive, Financial Services, FMCG, Utilities, Youth
Market Research Clothing, Financial Services, FMCG, FTSE 250, IT/Telecomms, Retail,  Top 1000, Transport, Travel, Utilities, Youth
Packaging Design Clothing, FMCG
PR Home, Representative Bodies
Retail Design Leisure, Retail
Sales Promotion FMCG, Retail
Search Leisure, Retail
Social Media Leisure, Travel

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