T-MobileAt this year’s ANA Masters of Marketing conference, Mike Sievert, T-Mobile’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer discussed how T-Mobile has single-handedly disrupted an industry through its “Un-carrier” strategy of defying “carrier” rules and putting the customer first.

Its bold approach has struck a chord with consumers, making T-Mobile the fastest growing wireless carrier in America.

Nothing complex about what they’ve done, they just looked at the market, tried to understand what frustrated consumers, tried to understand what was important to them in their selection process, and made the changes stick.

Not something the airlines industry needs to do, says Sievert.

And he’s right.  While we all complain about no leg room, crappy service, bad (or no) food on flights, what do we make our airline choices based on?  Certainly not food and leg room and service.  We base our choices on price and timing of flights.  So do you think the airlines really care?

In the world of cell phones it’s what drives decisions that has made the T-Mobile move a success.  The industry is following.

T-Mobile Un-Carrier

While I by no means think we are even remotely close to the likes of a T-Mobile, we at RSW/AgencySearch are “Un-Agency Searching” the agency search business.

We looked at what was wrong with the current agency search process, what drives decisions by marketers, and what frustrates agencies…and turned the model upside down.

Making marketers pay upfront puts search consultants in a somewhat dominant position over agencies and I believe clouds their lenses when looking for new firms.  In my opinion, the approaches they use are used as a matter of convenience, not best practices.

Why is it that when an agency asks a smart question of a marketer during the search, search consultants share the response with all agencies?  Is that fair?  Why should all the agencies benefit?

Why lock out the agencies from dialogue with the client prior to the final pitch? Don’t you think you’d get better thinking and ideas if there was at least a little bit of dialogue?

Why cattle call a search so huge numbers of agencies can expend lots of energy for no gain?  Do we think putting agencies in somewhat of a subservient position going into a search is good for a long-term relationship?

The 4A’s have refused to recognize RSW/AgencySearch because our model is not aligned with what they’ve been backing for the past three decades.

It’s funny, because not only have brands like  Nissan, Jack-in-the-Box, Legrand, and Mercy Health found our no-cost method of finding better agencies of value (and not just price-value, but benefit value), but so has virtually every agency we have talked with, including some of the larger agencies like DDB, ARC, Crammer Krasselt, and Ryan Partnership/Epsilon.

I think that at the end of the day, this is simply the case of an industry that is too cozy.

We’re trying to shake it up the same way T-Mobile is trying to shake up the cellular world.  With 30 searches under our belt since 2010, three major searches about to begin that will draw larger agencies into the reviews, and growing interest at the ANA, we are simply happy to be meeting a need that no one is meeting and helping marketers and agencies in a better way.

Go T-Mobile!