Just completed a search for First Entertainment Credit Union in California.

Same Brief

Like many of the searches we have run since 2005, I am always amazed at how different responses can be from agencies given the same brief.

Most of the time it can be a really good thing.  You get a lot of good perspective of different types, which challenges the marketing client’s thinking and brings new ideas and concepts to the table never before considered.

Most of the time, it makes it difficult for marketers to choose.  Do they go with the rule follower?  The one that checked all the boxes and brings great experience and expertise to the table?

Or do you choose the agency that may have taken some chances and pushed the limits a bit. Maybe they make you feel a bit uncomfortable…but that could be a good thing.

Most often when I run searches for clients they find themselves in a position where it’s hard to choose from the three finalist agencies presenting.  Which in my mind is a good thing. I’ve done my job of (what I like to say) making it as hard as possible for you to make a decision.  Three good agencies means a tough choice.

But then there is the really rogue agency that goes off the reservation and carries the ball down a completely different path.

They ignore all the rules.

Or they present what seems to be ideas for a completely different assignment.

Had this happen with First Entertainment.  We had two really solid agencies present and then one that completely ignored the rules and took the client down a path that wasn’t central to their needs.  While conceptually, this agency was strategically very smart and shared some solid ideas, they left the client with zero confidence they could do what they needed them to do in the short and long-term…leaving the marketing client with no choice but to reject them.

While I think it’s fine for an agency to run off the reservation a bit, there has to be a balance.

I’m a big believer in taking some chances…but not at the expense of ignoring the client’s requests.

I’m also a big believer in what you see today is what you’re going to get tomorrow.  If they aren’t following any of the rules today, they probably won’t tomorrow.

So “Same Brief…Different Results” can be (and is generally speaking) a really good thing…so long as the agency doesn’t ignore the core needs of your business.

So What Does This Mean for You, the Marketer?

When you push out a brief for a search, be clear in terms of your expectations.  If you’re cool with them stretching it a bit, tell them that.

Consider giving each agency some time on the phone to get questions answered prior to the pitch.  This will not only give them a chance to learn more about your business and clarify things with you, but it will also give them an opportunity to learn more about your business and potentially begin to bounce ideas off of you.

Key is…just be clear.