As an old adage says: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

That in mind, I have a question that might seem simple on the surface, but stumps many of the marketers we work with: how do you begin the search for a new marketing partner?

It’s easy to find yourself getting into the weeds when starting the search – while there’s excitement associated with something new on the horizon, there’s also the pressure of ensuring that you make just the right choice… If you’re not mindful, the process can start feeling like a thousand-mile journey of its own.

That’s why before diving into the details, it’s crucial to lay a solid foundation and assemble an initial pool of agencies that will put your search in a place to succeed.

Finding a strong marketing partner a bit more complicated than, say, finding a place for dinner.

Testimonials are good, but don’t expect to find Yelp pages full of “best agencies near me”.

In fact, you might not even need an agency near you at all; while face-to-face meetings are preferable for more tactical work, many searches can (and should) be nationwide, ensuring that you’re getting the best selection regardless of location.

From there, you could limit the search to agencies you’ve dealt with in the past, but a small network can be restrictive, and may hold you back from finding the perfect agency for your roster.

Cast the net too wide, however, and you leave yourself with an even larger task of sifting through agencies and whittling down to the best fits for you.

It’s about finding a balance based on your scope.

The first to thing examine when assembling an initial master list is the state of your internal resources. Do you have a robust digital team, but a skeleton crew when it comes to design? Maybe a social media guru, but a lack of PR?

Whatever it may be, an understanding of both your in-house team and your current roster of agencies puts you in a position to start your search for a partner that will mesh with your current roster capabilities and dynamics.

This includes not only things that you like about your agencies, but also things you dislike, ensuring that you avoid—or at least mitigate—these qualities in your next search.

Drilling down a level deeper, know the work at hand. Is it a one-time project, an ongoing campaign, somewhere in the middle? These kind of questions can (and should) shape the search from the ground up, beginning from the first step with the initial set of agencies.

Only when you have a good sense of what you want (or don’t want) in your next agency should you be developing and sending your challenge document to agencies. We usually recommend a list of 20-30 to actually receive the RFI.

Thanks to our work on the agency new business side, we’ve built a network of 10,000+ agencies over our years in the space from which we can pull a tailored list according to your criteria and scope.

Whether it’s a small supporting role on a digital project, a full AOR search, or anywhere in between, we have the resources to start your search on the right foot with a pool of agencies that gives you the flexibility to choose, while still ensuring that the candidates are among the best equipped for your business’s challenges.

So if you’re trying to figure out where to start, or simply just don’t like the thought of going at a search on your own, give us a call (513-559-3101) or drop us a line (msneider@rswagencysearch.com) and we can give you a helping hand.