It doesn’t take a mechanic to recognize most parts of a car. You know a window from a tire, and (hopefully) you know the brakes from the gas pedal.

Pop the Hood

Likewise, any good marketer is able to spot the biggest red flags in an agency search.

Working with these agencies over time, you’re bound to recognize indicators like quality of previous work, client tenure, and areas of expertise.

What a mechanic sees, however, is the minutiae under the hood – you know, the tiny pieces that you never notice until they land your car in the shop.

Similar to a skilled mechanic, a trusted search consultant is able to spot potential issues before you find your next project broken down on the side of the road.

This includes things like engagement not only with the search, but with your company as a whole.

An agency may provide you with a wildly impressive resume of statistics and previous work, but if they make no effort to connect it with your company and the specific challenges you face, you may have a potential problem on your hands.

Short-term, the answer isn’t helpful in framing the potential partnership with your company.

Long-term, you may find the agency cutting corners as they value efficient, “one size fits all” solutions over work that is customized to the client.

cut corners

Along the same lines, take note of the amount of presentation time the agency dedicates to strategy.

There’s no doubt that your search candidates are eager to show what they’ve done for other clients, but what sets a potential winner apart is the why behind those projects.

What guided the thinking in each of their projects? How do these principles translate to your projects?

“Strategic” has become a common pitch buzzword across agencies, but when done right, the time the agency spends discussing big picture thinking will give you a crucial glimpse at what has informed the agency’s previous work—and will continue to guide their efforts going forward.

Stay critical. Look below the hood to go beyond the agency’s polished presentation. And most importantly, keep an eye out for the small details that can snowball into big issues down the road.

If you need a little help kicking the tires, we’re happy to help you find your next agency partner—at NO cost to you. Give me a call at 513-559-3101, or shoot me an email at