one-against-manyHad a conversation recently with a CMO about the challenges he’s facing managing multiple agencies.

He has a decent digital firm and a solid full service agency.

Problem for him is two-fold:

  1. He is finding that he has to continually make certain that his brand’s equity is managed correctly by each agency.  He is the owner of the brand and he finds that he has to keep 1/2 an eye on what each of the individual agencies are doing to insure that his brand’s presence speaks the same way regardless of where his consumers see his marketing.
  2. He also finds that every now and then he has to play peace-maker with his agencies because they aren’t always playing nicely in the sand box together.  He shared a story with me where each agency was asked to present their respective plans for the upcoming year and each presented plans that in essence tried to eliminate the need for the other firm.  With 1/2 of their eye on the other prize, one wonders how much of their focus is on the benefit of the client versus the benefit of their own bottom line.

I don’t think that there is a single best answer.   It depends on large part on the needs of your business.  If your business is more heavily dependent on all things digital, finding a specialist firm is probably a better way to go.

If you decide to pursue the single agency route, the challenge is going to be finding that “perfect” agency that can do it all.  They are out there, but you need to do your homework to ask the right questions in your quest to find that right babysitting

If you choose to manage multiple agencies, I would recommend you make one of the agencies the lead agency and let them each know that there will be no encroachment tolerated and that they have to work well together or you’re looking for new firms.

What’s certain is that you as the owner of your brand should NOT have to spend your time baby sitting or equity sitting.

Have you ever been watching a focus group with other marketers, your boss, and maybe your agency…and felt like everybody had their own agenda coming into the groups?

Does it ever seem like some or many of the participants behind the one-way mirror come to the table with their own conclusions and look to try and make out of what they’re hearing to fit their agenda?

I know I’ve been in situations like that during my 10 years as a marketer in the consumer packaged goods industry.

In cases like this, no one wins.

It’s more difficult to get real value from the perspective you’re hearing and the decisions that are made are necessarily the best decisions for the business.

Same holds true of marketing agency searches.

Regardless of whether it’s a search firm managing your search or if you’re managing it on your own.

You need someone managing the search who isn’t tightly tied to you (either because you’ve paid them or they are an employee) who might do what is right for you, versus doing what’s right for your business.

You need someone who can bring fresh, objective perspective to the table who can offer thinking based on previous searches they’ve managed.

You need someone who isn’t tied down to a pre-determined set of agencies which at the end of the day will limit the potential for you to get teh best possible talent for your business.

You need someone that can work for you under an arrangement that only offers compensation if they do the job their supposed to do – which isn’t just finding a great agency, but also find an agency that can be long-lasting and of value to your firm.