cuesThere are certain “in the middle of the review cues” you need to keep your eyes open for.

The final pitch presentation is always an exciting time for the agencies involved and the marketer running the search.

A lot of energy, enthusiasm, and interest in and around the brand.

Marketers are well loved.  Agencies have a certain glow about them.  All just feels so good!

In last week’s post I talked about things to look out for when watching an agency pitch (6 ways to pick apart a pitch).

While these things are all important and critical to making the right selection, there are some “in the middle of the review cues” that can signal just how good your new agency might be.

Too many marketers and search consultants don’t pay enough attention early on in the process to assess behavior as a precursor to effective partnerships with a marketing client.

Here are 5 things you can keep your eye out for that might signal either really good things – or potentially troubling and concerning areas about the future behavior of your new firm.
  1. How engaged are they at the start of the search and then, throughout?  Does their enthusiasm last throughout the process, or just during convenient times, like the very beginning and the very end of the process.  Inconsistent levels of enthusiasm now might mean the same for your business relationship going forward.  No one said it would all be fun and games.  Good times and bad…works for a marriage (or should).  Should also work here.
  2. Do they ask smart, strategic questions when/if given the opportunity?  Or do they get down into the weeds – or seem more concerned about what your spending levels are than what your business objectives are?  At the end of the day, you probably want a good strategic business partner wrapped up in the body of a creative agency.  Sometimes after many years in a relationship, agencies turn into “do-er” agencies and stop being proactive.  You don’t want this right out of the block.
  3. When they answer your RFI or RFP, do they take the time to make their responses relevant to your world?  Or does it just look like another cut ‘n paste of a case study they’ve used in many RFIs before.  If they take the easy way out, could mean they’ll eventually do the same with you.  If they can’t put in the effort now to show you how they understand your business, how will they act when they’re sitting under a great contract.
  4. Are they eager (not desperate)?  Are they among the first to sign up for presentation or Q&A/Chemistry Call time slots – or are they last, by a mile.  In the end this lack of responsiveness could be sign of how responsive or not they’ll be in your relationship.
  5. And are they organized when they present, respond, and are given the chance to ask questions?  If they don’t seem to be working well as a team when they have the time to organize their thoughts and practice their approach or what they would like to say, how might they act when your business is on the line.  You need a well oiled machine and if you’re not getting it pre-the engagement, then it might be a warning sign of what’s yet to come.

So while all of these things aren’t deal breakers, they are things to keep your eyes open for as you move your way through a review.  If you see patterns across much of what I mention above, then you might want to take a step back and either raise the concern with the agency involved, know that it’s something you need to watch out for when you bring them on board…or decide then and there (if the issue is significant enough) that it’s not worth the risk in continuing to move the agency forward.