The agency search pitch can be a tricky thing.  If you don’t play it right, you won’t get what you need to help you effectively evaluate the firms you’ve brought in to vie for your business.

The best thing to do, at least I believe, is to think about your business challenges and build the final pitch presentation around those challenges.

One assumes you’ve already gotten a look at their credentials and evaluated their responses in an RFI-like document, so that part only needs to be a small part of what they present (maybe to give those in the meeting that haven’t met this agency some measure of comfort that they have what’s needed).

What I would ask the agency to do is to bring to life one case study that best speaks to a specific challenge you are facing.

Have them talk about the challenge their client faced, how they unearthed the right way to speak to the challenge, and ultimately what they did.  And of course, results are critically important.  Did what they orchestrated deliver what it needed to deliver for that client?

Once they work their way through that, then I’d ask them to turn their eye towards you (which hopefully they have been for a portion of the presentation up until this point in time).

Give them a specific challenge and ask them how they would address it.

As an example, in situations where they’re asked to build you a new website, have them walk you through the process and estimates of cost.

If they’re delivering a new campaign, ask them to show you their thinking (I always tell them to take it as far as they feel they need to) and show you how their campaign ideas manifest themselves across different media/marketing platforms.

If your challenge is moving more customers into your store, ask them to present their best strategic thinking, and ask them to piece together a plan for how they would address this challenge specific to your situation.

There are lots of business challenges out there and lots of ways to put together a final pitch presentation.

Key is thinking through what you want your agency to be doing for you, what problems you want them to help you solve, and them framing the “Challenge Document” as we call it, around that need.

And please…give each agency ample time to address what you’re asking them to do so you don’t short-change them and yourself.

Oh…and don’t forget to leave some time for questions.

Usually, 2 hours for the entire pitch is reasonable.  1.5 hours for the presentation and 1/2 hour for questions.

If you have any questions or want to talk about having us help you with a search, feel free to reach out to me at



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.