Long agency review lists might sound like a great thing to many…but in reality, they are no good for anyone.

My desire when shopping is to want to look at as many options as possible before making a decision.

I know that in the end, there is a diminishing return on the time invested…and I also find that the more I look at more options, the more I lose track of what I’ve looked at.

Same is true of marketing agencies in an agency search.

In an article in Adweek, it indicated that the numbers of agencies being asked to participate in searches is on the rise, which is decreasing the likelihood of winning and increasing the cost to the agency.

No fun for anyone.

While one would think that this approach would be better for marketers because they get to see more options and feel better about the fact that they are looking at a wider variety of firms and thinking…I argue that it is in fact a lot worse.

Ever try and take a serious read of an agency RFI or RFP?  They can be long and tedious at times…even those that are well written and thoughtful.  And given agencies aren’t inherently all that different, reading too many of them can be brain numbing.

So what to do?

First thing is to define the Scope of Search properly.

Be exacting in terms of what your current challenges are and what you’re looking for in a new agency.  This will give your search consultant (or whomever is working the search) the right set of criteria to screen firms.

Second thing to do is go beyond the functional when asking questions in an RFI.

Don’t just ask the basics like size and expertise.  Start asking them questions about their experience dealing with similar challenges like those you face at your company.  Then sit back and see how well they tie their experiences to your situation.

The great agencies will work to help you understand very clearly why they are telling you the things they’re telling you in their RFI and will provide examples that tie very neatly to your world.

Those that aren’t so great will be great “cutters and pasters”.

And lastly…take your time when you review the RFI or RFPs.

Read them through once without taking notes.  On your second pass take some notes, start making some comparisons between agencies.  And on your final pass, give them a grade.  We rate agencies on a 1-10 scale and submit our rating and our recommendation to our marketing clients prior to their review.  Some like to carry it on their own at first before seeing what we have to offer – which is fine.

If you need help finding a new and better agency, give us a call (513-559-3101) or email us at msneider@rswagencysearch.com.