Had a marketer ask me in an email to outline our agency search process.  It’s something I always talk about..but never something I write about, so I thought I’d share.

Might help you think about how to best manage your own process if you’re thinking about looking for a new firm.

Here is how our typical search process works:

Step 1
We talk so I can nail down the scope of search (what you’re looking for, desired location/profile of agency, what problems you’re trying to solve, what your goals/objectives are). I write a scope of search document (including a timeline) that I send you for review/changes/approval. This is what I use to guide the search.

Timing: Approximately 1 week


Step 2
I then tap into our databases of roughly 6,000+ agencies and begin my search. During this period, I draft an RFI (request for information). I send this to you for review/changes/approval. At the end of this 2 week period, I send the RFI to roughly 7 agencies. This timing can be reduced if you are working under a tight timeline.

Timing: Approximately 2 weeks

Step 3
Typically I give the agencies about 2 weeks to complete the RFI. This timing can be reduced if need be. During this period, I make a recommendation relative to what we should have the finalist agencies (usually 3 of the 7) do (e.g. present capabilities, ideas, strategy).

Timing: Approximately 2 weeks

Step 4
Once the RFIs are received, I review and give you my recommendations. You see all the RFIs. I rate each agency on a 1-10 scale and recommend whether or not they move forward into a final presentation phase or not.

Timing: Approximately 2-3 days

Step 5
Q&A/Chemistry call or agency visit. During the call or visit, the agency and the client (you) get to meet each other, discuss the final presentation requirements, and get oriented to each other’s businesses.

Timing: Approximately 1 week

Step 6
We typically give the agencies 2-3 weeks to prepare – all depends on the complexity of the final pitch presentation.
The final presentations typically last 2 hours each (again, depends on complexity of the pitch).

Timing: Approximately 2-3 weeks

Hope this helps.





Mark is a 30-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark started his career at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to earning his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Prior to starting RSW/US in 2005, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson and KAO Brands. Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences domestically and internationally including the 4A’s, Magnet, NAMA, TAAN, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes. When not working (which often seems like not often), Mark likes to run miles, go to church, and just chill with a hard copy issue of Fast Company.