Last week we talked about what to look for in an Agency if you are running the search process yourself.  The “must have” Agency is not an easy thing to find, so you need to make sure you’re asking all the right questions and the Agency’s giving you what you deserve:  quality thinking and quality work.

Now for the million dollar question:  How to manage the search process yourself?  What steps should you take and what kind of timing is realistic/reasonable to expect from an Agency during a search?

Here is a timeline we put together recently for a major hospital search.  I’ve added some commentary to help you and your organization move through the process more effectively.

Phase I:
Discovery interviews with key Client decision makersweeks 1-2

Interview key stakeholders to find out what they don’t like about the current relationship

and what their “ideal” next Agency looks like.

Phase II: Research/interview Agencies – weeks 3-4
After you collect up a group of Agencies, check out their sites, Google News search them.
Look in other industry resources for insights and facts about their background.
Do they meet the criteria?  Once the list is narrowed down, set up 1/2 hour phone interviews
with the Agencies to get a feel for their “personality” and how you might work with them.

Phase III: RFI’s released to Agenciesweek 5
If you need help developing an RFI, give us a shout.  Happy to help talk you through it.
Bottom line is keep it simple and mainly fact based.  Do add a question or two about
“why they’d be a good  fit” and “how they might address a specific issue”, just to get
a bit of depth of thinking – but for the most part, keep it fact based.

Phase IV: RFI’s completeweek 7 (2 weeks after release)

Phase V: Agencies selected for Client visitsweek 8
Be objective.  Use the insights gleaned from the phone conversations and the facts
presented in the RFIs to select those Agencies that are the closest fits to the “must have” profile.

Phase VI: Client to visit Agenciesweeks 9-10
This becomes a bit of a chemistry check for you.  Ask for capabilities and see what
they give you.  If they’re worth their weight, they’ll go above and beyond.  This is the
time to see if you like them – and to find out what your day-to-day team is going to look like.

Phase VII: RFP developedweeks 9-10 (while visits are taking place)
Again, happy to talk this one with you.  Key is presenting a challenge that represents
your challenge and ask them to lay out the plans (strategy and tactics) relative to how
they are going to address it.  How far you want the Agency to push it (e.g. show creative)
is really up to you and the complexity of your business challenges.

Phase VIII: RFPs released to selected Agencies – week 10

Phase IX: Agency presentations at Client officesweeks 11-15
This is where you need to look back at last week’s post and carefully watch what
you’re seeing in these presentations.  Don’t be taken by the pomp and circumstance.
Be objective and critical (in a good way).  Make sure you’re getting all your questions answered.

Phase X: Final Agency selectionweek 16
This is where the fun begins!  Make sure you get them under contract and make
sure the contract fairly protects you.  Again, happy to talk this with you if you’d like.

So, a lot to think about and a lot to do.  You have three choices.  Do it yourself; pay for a search consultant; or use RSW/AgencySearch (you pay us nothing, we get our fee from the winning Agency) to help you out.

Doing it yourself is not insurmountable…just takes some time and some focus.

Happy searching!