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Five things Mercer Island Group will talk about at this year’s Build A Better Agency Summit

Five things Mercer Island Group will talk about at this year’s Build A Better Agency Summit

Five Things Mercer

The annual Build A Better Agency Summit is happening this week in Denver. 

There are lots of conferences that will help you learn the latest and greatest SEO techniques or digital media buying strategies, but there is only one conference that focuses on helping small to mid-sized agency owners run their business better, so that it’s more sustainable, scalable, and down the line if you want to — sellable. It’s the Build A Better Agency Summit presented by Agency Management Institute. This conference in Denver will host over 400 small agency executives. And Robin, Lindsay and I are lucky enough to have been invited again to share our perspective, representing Mercer Island Group.

Not everyone can attend, so I thought I’d share just a few snippets of what the Mercer Island Group team will be talking about.

During our formal stage presentations, in workshops and over drinks we will be covering a lot of ground!

Here is just a sampling of some key topics we will cover:

Marketers are from Mars, Agencies are from Venus
Marketers and agencies mean well, and want to be on the same page, but they have dramatically different views on so many things! Clients think they brief well; agencies disagree. Clients think they are clear in their needs; agencies don’t think clients are clear. And the list goes on and on and on. Here’s one of my favorite findings from the past year:

As you can see in the graphic above from the 2024 Contagious Radar report, there is an enormous difference of opinion on the most basic of topics: compensation.

The indicated action is for agencies to make sure their scopes are focused on specific deliverables and measurable impact. You won’t get credit unless you’re measuring the right things (even the money).

Clients have an important role here also: build your scopes around very specific outcomes and not sausage making.

Many Agencies Struggle to Devote Enough Time to Strategy Work… And We Have Found a Shortcut

Many accounts are simply not scoped to allow for significant strategy work. And many agency execs are not very skilled in developing strategy and strategic insights. Good strategy work requires expertise and investment in time and resources. AI promises to help, but most AI tools have not been developed with an eye towards advertising strategy work.

Until now! At Mercer Island Group we have licensed a new AI platform developed by agency strategists for agencies:


Whether you’re working on a last-minute pitch or doing critical due diligence, Waldo’s AI research assistant has you covered with fast, reliable, data. Become an expert in seconds. Waldo is an amazing tool, with built in processes for competitive reviews, 3C’s strategy frameworks and a broad range of templated processes that dramatically reduce your legwork, setting you up to leverage this fast data into compelling insights and strategies. Try Waldo – tell them Mercer Island Group sent you and you’ll get some bonus capabilities.

Business Issues Help Agencies Bond with Prospects and Win Pitches

If you know any of the folks at Mercer Island Group or have seen us speak, you’ll know how we preach seemingly nonstop about the importance of understanding your clients’ and prospects’ real business issues. We define Business Issues as the key challenge(s) or opportunity(s) a company is facing.

As we were packing our bags for BABA, this article broke in Ad Age:

stop & shop
This caught my eye for a number of reasons including the fact that our team at Mercer Island Group ran the review. In addition to our pride is such magical match making, this quote from the article really stood out:
Business Issues
Business Issues! The ability for an agency to uncover them in client and prospect conversations is a skill that provides immense returns.
Agencies & Clients Need Deep Expertise Now More Than Ever Before

Deep marketing expertise keeps clients from reexamining their agency choice and helps clients succeed.

Simply put, marketing and advertising knowledge exists that should be essential understanding for all marketers and agency execs. And our industry is filled with an enormous number of beliefs that are simply wrong. Knowing the difference makes you a more valuable advisor.

For example, it seems to be common knowledge that ads wear out. And that “common knowledge” is likely wrong, as Kantar proved over a decade ago and the team at System1 re-proved in 2022:

Years Research
(By the way, I don’t recall where I found the above visual. If it was yours, thank you!)

Or how about this new learning: 24% of the impact of advertising shows up in the first week… and the remaining 76% of the impact occurs over the following 103 weeks. See below from the Profit Ability 2 report:

Marketers and agency execs MUST be students of their craft. Keep reading and studying and learning.
Agencies Need to Revolutionize How They Talk About Money

Earlier in this article we discussed Business Issues – the key challenges or opportunities that an organization is facing. Agencies need to come to grips with the fact that the ability to impact these challenges or opportunities is the only thing clients really want to pay for. They want the impact, not the hours or the tactics. To do this, agencies need to apply a new lens to how they talk about the money: a focus on the outcomes that their budget will deliver.

Mercer Island Group’s Compelling Economic Proposal Framework is intended to do just that:

We’d be happy to discuss this with you.
If You Missed BABA 2024, mark your calendars for BABA 2025!
Steve Boehler, founder, and partner at Mercer Island Group has led consulting teams on behalf of clients as diverse as Ulta Beauty, Microsoft, UScellular, Nintendo, Kaiser Permanente, Holland America Line, Stop & Shop, Qualcomm, Brooks Running, and numerous others. He founded MIG after serving as a division president in a Fortune 100 when he was only 32. Earlier in his career, Steve Boehler cut his teeth with a decade in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble, leading brands like Tide, Pringles, and Jif.