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The Little Things That Matter in An Agency Search

Posted on May 26, 2017

It’s the little things that (also) matter in an agency search.

I just completed three sets of final pitch presentations for three separate searches we are running.  Two in the franchise space and one in the banking/credit union space.

Little things

In all three cases, there were little things that either helped push an agency ahead or helped drag an agency down.

In each case, we brought in 3 finalist agencies to the table – all of whom had excellent credentials.

On paper, any one of them could seemingly step up and fit the bill.  Because of that, it was the little things that made a difference.

Keep your eyes peeled for these things are you manage your next agency search – or as you’re shepherded through the process by an outside group like ours.

Here is a list of some of the “little things” some of these agencies did:

  1. The agency brought in too many people, outnumbering the marketing client.  Not only did this make the marketing client feel uncomfortable, but it also left them asking “why so many and so few participated?”.
  2. The agency didn’t have alignment among the presenters.  I asked a question at the end of one of the final pitch presentations about how this agency was going to align their campaign concept with the way they proposed they do their planning.  When on principal started answering, he was quickly interrupted by the other principal who noted that what was being described was beyond the scope of the client’s budget…say what?
  3. The agency got too far down into the weeds.  Almost like they skipped the strategy and went straight into the tactics.  Classic “order taker” agency.
  4. The agency took it for granted that all the marketers in the room knew their credentials.  We had a senior level marketer sit in on the presentations and it was her first time meeting the agencies.  Her direct reports worked with us on the early part of the search.  One agency didn’t share any credentials to speak of…leaving the senior level marketer questioning their expertise in her space.
  5. Presented ideas with no grounding in a consumer insight.  Great and fun campaign idea, but what is it built out of?  What consumer benefit is it addressing.  Absent of that insight, it’s just a fun campaign.

So these are just a small handful of examples of the little things that are sometimes missed by agencies.

They might not seem like huge issues, but when you have 3 best-in-class agencies presenting their wares and they all bring comparable levels of expertise to the table, it’s the attention to detail and the thinking behind what’s being presented that can set agencies apart.

So keep your eyes peeled, ask the tough questions, and be ready to compare.

About 

Mark is a 30-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark started his career at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to earning his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Prior to starting RSW/US in 2005, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson and KAO Brands. Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences domestically and internationally including the 4A’s, Magnet, NAMA, TAAN, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes. When not working (which often seems like not often), Mark likes to run miles, go to church, and just chill with a hard copy issue of Fast Company.

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