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Marketing leader tips on prepping for an unpredictable 2023

Marketing leader tips on prepping for an unpredictable 2023


What an end to a crazy year!

With a truly bizarre 2022 wrapping up, CMOs and marketers everywhere are looking ahead to 2023. And the road ahead is full of unknowns. What can marketers do to hit the ground running and be ready for the unknowns that 2023 will bring?

Here are three key tips that will help marketing leaders succeed in 2023.

Make sure you are a good client

Good clients get good work and the best return on their agency investments. Bad clients cost themselves a great deal of money.

What behaviors define “good client”? Good clients have clear expectations, sound and consistent strategies, well trained teams, brief their agencies well, have streamlined review and decision-making processes, disciplined workflows, provide effective feedback and ensure their scopes are right sized to their budgets. Are you sure that is your organization?

If you are unsure how effective your team is at partnering with your agencies, find out and address how you can be an even better client. Do it now. Kick off an immediate client-agency 360 assessment. The 360 approach includes the agency evaluating the client (in addition to the client evaluating the agency). The ideal approach includes both qualitative feedback and quantitative grading and is administered by an objective and experienced third party. At Mercer Island group we have performed hundreds of these 360 evaluations with a disciplined and thorough process and have norms available for context. There are also a number of other fine firms that offer this service. The key is to get going now! Clients need to know what role they play in their agencies’ effectiveness and efficiency. Clients that are attentive to how they can be better partners get better work from their agencies – and get that work at the most efficient cost possible.

Unlock the marketer’s secret weapon: your agencies

In this overwhelming environment, CMOs have a secret advantage that is often out of sight and out of mind: their agencies.


A CMO deals with the same industry, same competitors and typically the same challenges every day that result from that ecosystem. Agencies, on the other hand, have a much broader view. They are seeing a lot more change than the marketer because the agencies, on a day-to-day basis, are folks that are dealing with a wide range of clients and they see a much wider range of issues, and much wider range, frankly, of successful solutions. This knowledge base is a potential core advantage agencies can bring to marketers.

Marketers should use this time of uncertainty to partner more effectively with their agencies to unlock this knowledge. This breadth of agency experience can become a core source of the ideation and innovation that marketers need to keep up in such a turbulent marketplace and succeed despite so many unknowns.

Agency executives should share their breadth of learning on a daily basis with their clients. Help clients leverage this knowledge. Use the knowledge to inform your recommendations.

Streamline your roster, SOWs and processes to eliminate waste and redundancy

Many clients need a roster of agencies to ensure they have the right skills and capabilities supporting their business. One challenge with having multiple agencies is that multiple clients are often asking different agencies to solve the same challenge. CMOs need processes in place to ensure that duplication of effort is kept to a minimum – including ensuring that the scopes of the inhouse agency and the remainder of the roster are appropriately conceived and managed to ensure agility and minimize duplication. Do you need as many agencies as you currently have? How much overlap is there?

Agency rosters often grow organically over time and yet rarely shrink without a concerted, strategic effort. Many agency relationships are based on historic and sometimes out-of-date needs. Often multiple agencies are providing the same or similar services. This expansion of agency rosters over time often results in duplication of effort, lost efficiencies and less integration.

In addition, more agencies can often result in more challenges:

  • Agencies that are only privy to some of an organization’s challenges and opportunities
  • Agencies that focus on only narrow aspects of a customer’s journey, lacking a more holistic view
  • Marketing spend that is fragmented and purchasing power that is diminished
  • Agencies that see only some of a client’s data
  • Multiple agencies managing similar tactics, handling similar data and addressing similar challenges
  • Agency effort duplication (strategically, tactically, financially)
  • Greater client management and staffing investment required to manage the agencies

For many clients, a roster consolidation effort can yield significant benefits:

  • Greater media effectiveness and efficiency
  • Better strategic counsel
  • More effective integration of strategies and tactics
  • Enhanced service
  • Less duplication of effort
  • Less company over-sight needed
  • And better business outcomes!

Steve Boehler, founder, and partner at Mercer Island Group has led consulting teams on behalf of clients as diverse as Zillow Group, Microsoft, UScellular, Nintendo, Ulta Beauty, 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.