2022 Marketing Trends That Agency Pros Need to Know

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Agency life. It’s something I’ve been immersed in for more than 25 years. I’ve experienced a variety of ups and downs, including the rise of the internet bubble and the Great Recession of 2008. Little surprises me anymore.

That being said, the industry trends I’ve seen throughout 2022 have been truly eclectic. They reveal the magnitude of the post-pandemic shockwaves marketers have ridden since 2020, and they also point to tremendous opportunities and potential. Here’s a breakdown of what’s been going on this year:

1. Agency Owners Are Becoming More Proactive

Being an agency owner can be energizing, especially when you have to solve problems on the fly. But it’s not feasible to stay at such a heightened level of awareness for too long. For two years, you’ve been on guard. Now, you’re tired of reacting.

Everyone is pretty tired of the unexpected. However, the upside to this is that plenty of agency owners are getting off this emotional rollercoaster. Things are slowing down and normalizing. Leaders are finding a better balance. The result of this? Greater success. Getting on your feet, recommitting to your role, and taking back control have an overall positive effect on your team. They’re proactive — and proactivity is good for business.

2. Clients Are Asking Agencies to Help Them Prove ROI

Marketing clients know they want to work with agencies, but they have to get their leadership teams on board. That’s why clients are asking agencies to assist them in connecting the dots.

This is a major chance for you to show your worth. Agencies that can use data and reports to pinpoint ROI will stand out from the competition. They’ll land contracts. They’ll receive referrals. And they’ll hit their numbers.

Of course, this requires you to get creative with not only the assets you generate, but also the way you prove your firm’s value. Technological tools play essential parts in swaying C-suite members’ minds.

3. The Work-from-home Debate is Settling Down

Some agencies never went home during the pandemic. Others were already dabbling with remote work and chose not to return to the office. But most agencies settled in the middle, allowing the telecommuting pendulum to swing unrestricted. As such, the hybrid work model has grown in popularity.

The agencies getting the most out of this model are the ones maintaining calendar consistency. It’s hard to run an agency if people are out of the office on different days each week. It’s much easier to collaborate and contribute to the overall culture when everyone works on a set schedule. To flourish with a hybrid model, you have to know when and where workers will be on any given day, barring emergencies.

4. Employees are Making Bold Demands

One trend that’s surprised a lot of agencies is the shift in power; employees are moving to the driver’s seat. For instance, they’re asking owners for sizable raises. I’ve heard from many agencies that are digging deep just to keep their top performers from going elsewhere.

But increased salaries aren’t employees’ only demands. Flexible scheduling, additional benefits, and more are all on the table now. One agency owner told me about an employee who walked in the door and announced they were relocating across the country the next week. The employee just assumed that the move wouldn’t affect anything.

You don’t want to deal with turnover, of course. So, make concessions — for now, anyway. Workers seem to be slowly moving away from an “I want it all or I’m leaving” attitude, which shows stabilization in the labor market.

5. Micro-influencers and Walled Gardens are Crushing It

Want to wow a client? Try offering a micro-influencer program or creating a walled garden.

As a reminder, micro-influencers don’t just make a living influencing professionally. A micro-influencer is a subject matter expert like a doctor or professor with a significant but modest social media following. Make no mistake: Their followers are loyal and engaged. If you negotiate sponsorships and endorsements with micro-influencers, you’ll help your clients grow.

Walled gardens are private member environments. A private Facebook group or invite-only proprietary forum are good examples of private member environments. Though it costs money to keep the community running and engaged, walled gardens can be worth the investment to nurture prospects and former clients.

The marketing industry is ramping up to a strong 2023. Although agency owners are still shaking off the pandemic, they’re poised to do big things. Learn from the best and take advantage of these trends as you finish out the year.

About the author


Drew McLellan

For over 30 years, Drew McLellan has been in the advertising industry. For 26 of those years, he has owned and run an agency. Additionally, Drew leads the Agency Management Institute, which advises hundreds of small- to medium-sized advertising agencies on how to grow and build their profitability through agency owner peer networks, consulting, workshops, and more.