Corporate clients are postponing events from Q3 and Q4 this year into 2024 as the uncertain economic outlook is making it more challenging to get marketing budgets approved, according to some agency heads on our recent monthly nineteen agency leaders call.
“We’re finding that some of our clients are moving projects into next year, changing the goal posts and being generally hesitant about signing things off, which is making it increasingly difficult to allocate our teams to projects,” said one agency MD. “Next year is looking like it’s going to be good, but now we need to find more work to fill up this year and replace the work that is being postponed. We invested in growing our teams last year, so it’s making things tricky. We think it’s because of the economy but we’re not 100% sure.”
Several other agency heads agreed. “We work predominantly in the IT sector and have had several big projects move into next year. There seems to be quite a bit of reluctance in getting marketing activity and budgets signed off. It’s very unpredictable – some clients are spending, some are not, and some are going back to virtual,” said one.
Another added: “We are hearing more about redundancies at some agencies in the industry, we’re hearing about certain clients not doing much activity in Q3 and Q4, but it’s so varied still. It’s not one vertical sector or type of client, so it’s difficult to forecast in the short term. How do you plan for that? I think we are still in recovery mode, and we need to plan for any eventuality.”
One agency head said that it is trying to encourage clients to replace events that are shifting to 2024 with either smaller live events, or virtual events, to help offset the loss of revenue but also to ensure clients are still reaching those key customers and getting the messages out that they need to.
Several agencies shared they are finding that clients are expecting them to resource up and invest in new hires to handle their account, but not actually confirming the work, or in one case freezing spend.
The fact that there have been some redundancies in the event agency sector, is helping to ease recruitment challenges according to one agency MD, as there are some more experienced senior people coming back onto the market.
While none of the agency leaders on the call are currently making redundancies, one said: “Like everyone, we massively recruited during the growth spurt out of Covid, and now we’re finding that we are having to shift a few people around into different roles within the agency, as we have more people than we need in some areas of the group, and not enough in others.”
Leaders also discussed ongoing challenges with staff working from home, with one admitting it is difficult to manage productivity of staff and know how much work to give them when you are not even in the same building.
Another said: “How do you engage workers when they are remote and prevent distractions that come with it” Do we now need to install new rules around home working rather than just let people get on with it?”