In an article recently posted in Adweek, Home Builder Taylor Morrison’s CMO Stephanie McCarty makes the the claim that “the agency model is broken” which is a bold assertion depending on where you stand.

There are plenty of people on both sides of the marketer/agency fence that would say the same thing. However, in this case, it sounds more like she’s having trouble defining just what she needs in a marketing agency.

On some level, I agree that the model was broken, but given the challenges that agencies have been facing over the past 18 months, with cutbacks in spending and the delaying of projects by their marketer peers, they have been forced to re-think how they do business.

At least the good ones have.

I’ve been working directly with agencies for nearly two decades, (with our company RSW/US), operating as the agency’s outsourced new business team. Operating as if we are part of the agency as we reach out to you marketers requires us to know a lot about each agency before we represent it, and it’s rare these days that part of that menu of offerings involves a lot of “deep dives” and research to kick off a relationship. Most realize marketers don’t have the time and the budgets to do what might have been more “normal” a decade ago.

And I’ve been operating as an agency search consultant with the RSW/AgencySearch side of our business, so I’ve seen first-hand marketers defining their needs and our team finding the right agency to meet those needs.  It’s rare that a marketer client of ours can’t find their perfect fit because of the work we do upfront to define, very specifically, what the marketer wants from a new agency.

Here’s a post I wrote just this past September that talks about the importance of proper planning and thinking prior to looking for a new agency.  I suspect Stephanie either did very little of this or really didn’t ask the right kinds of questions to unearth her best-fit-firm.

I simply think Stephanie is either picking the wrong agencies or she just doesn’t know what she wants.

So jumping back to the title of this post “Agency Doer versus Thinker – Can You Have Both?”.  I think the answer is “yes, but” with the “but” being you better ask the right questions and find out just how they think and support the varied layers of a marketer’s needs.

You don’t do that, and you’ll end up with a team of 50 people (sounds like a nightmare) that take up your time and energy.

Many agencies today recognize that in order to sustain long-lasting marketer relationships they have to go beyond just being a “do’er” firm and they need to step outside the scope of their ask to help move their client’s business forward with smart thinking and sound strategy.

Being this kind of agency doesn’t require the marketer to dish out a lot of money and take up a lot of their time.  It just requires the marketer to think long and hard about what they want, peel back the agency candidates they’re considering, and examine how well or not well the agency’s model and more importantly, their experiences, match the needs of the company and the brand.

Here’s to Stephanie’s continued success! Seems to all be working for her, and that makes me happy!