Hard to believe that things are so bad in the Agency Search world that the ANA and the 4A’s had to issue a refreshed set of guidelines on how to best prepare agencies when they are involved in an agency search.

According to the article that appeared in Ad Age (Search Guidelines), “Marketers need to work on issuing more detailed briefings to agencies throughout the new business search process, according to recent findings that inspired a new set of agency search guidelines from both the ANA and 4A’s.”

4As-Logo-editIn the article, Tom Finneran of the 4A’s goes on to say:

“What we found, first and foremost, is there were inadequate briefings. They were lacking details about the marketers’ business and guidance.”ana logo

I recently was approached by a marketer who wanted to help them with a new agency search.

I could tell from the get-go that this marketer was reluctant to give away much information about their business, about their needs, or about the challenges they faced with past agencies.

At the end of the day, I knew that unless I could give the agencies we would have ultimately included in this search a clear picture of what the marketer wanted, not only would the search fall short, but the relationship potentially would start out with expectations completely not aligned.

While it might take time and some effort to spell out, in detail, what you want in a new marketing agency, it’s the old principle of good stuff in, good stuff out.

Bad information in the briefing document, bad search all around.

When we run an agency search, we create a very detailed Scope of Search.  We typically carry the following sections to help the agencies understand what they are working with as they make their way through the search:

1. Company Background – Frame the company, it’s history, it’s players, the agency relationships.

2. Marketing Support – Give the agencies some idea of the type of marketing that has supported the business.

3. Issues with Current Agency Relationship – Help the agencies understand where the agency fell down so they don’t make the same mistakes.

4. Requirements of Next Agency – So expectations are set and everybody is aligned with the relationship begins.

5. Ideal Agency Profile & Personality – Paint a picture of the agency – so the agency can self-assess whether or not they are a good fit.

6. Timing of Assignment/Agency Selection – So everyone knows when things are happening.  Be realistic.

Follow these steps and you’re certain to find yourself in a better position in not only evaluating the agencies during the search process, but also find yourself in a better position when you start what hopefully will be a nice long-term relationship with that marketing firm.