We tell our agency clients all the time:  Make it about them, not about you!

We have a client who recently jumped into a second conversation with a prospect to discuss the potential of them helping with a $300k-$500k project and in the “mock call” the agency guy talked about how he might not be able to get things to him too quickly because he has a vacation coming up to the Bahamas.  Look-at-Me

Really we asked?

And instead of saying “Just as an FYI, I plan on visiting those local markets to get a better flavor of them before I submit my proposal” he offered up in the mock call, this: “I have some other clients in those markets, so maybe the next time I’m down there, I’ll visit some of your locations”.  Really?  This guy needs some serious schooling!

This isn’t too different from what we see at times during our searches – and what we try and ferret out early in the process.

I’ve written a post that talks about creating “RFTs” or Requests for Thinking instead of the traditional RFI.  It’s in these that this “all about me” way of thinking starts to rear its ugly head…and it’s there that we want to say “thank you, but no thank you” to the agency – not when they’re in the final pitch phase.

So how can you tell, you ask?

We look for responses that give little to no “nods” to you, the client.  As an example, I’ll ask the agency to tell us why they’re a good fit for client ABC.  If all they do is go on generically about all their great experience and how super they are to work with…please already!

If they talk about their experience in the context of the client challenge (which they’ll know at that point) and relate how their experiences directly parallel with the client’s, then we’re starting to make sense…

And same holds true for the sections that ask agencies to present their best case study that showcases how they addressed challenge XYZ.  If all they do is cut and paste their case study and don’t relate the experience to the client, then they have failed the exercise.

I tell our agency clients that “you all do the same stuff” (I always preface it with “no offense meant”).

And they do.  They all produce content…some much better than others.

In the end what’s going to separate out good agencies from great marketing agencies are those that can think strategically, can relate their work to yours and apply that thinking and learning, and those that can serve as a true partner on your business and not just a tactical “do’er”.

The great thing about a well organized search process is that the “do’er” agency profile can show itself early if the search is managed correctly and the right kinds of questions are asked and responses are carefully analyzed.

So next time you’re in a search…do yourself a favor.

Look at the responses through the lens of “Is It About You….Or Me?” and you’ll most certainly wind up  in a better place…with a better partner.