Just spent two days at the Mirren marketing agency conference in New York.  Great conference for us as it gives us the opportunity to meet, and get re-acquainted with 100’s of agencies from across the country.

The conference also provides us with added perspective on the agency and marketer world that ultimately helps us when we manage searches for our marketing clients looking for new marketing firms.

Next Generation

One of the sessions I attended was called “The Next Generation of Search Consultants: The Change Ahead for Agencies”.

As a search consultant that helps smaller spend marketers find agencies that are often mid-size to smaller in size, I thought I might gain some worthwhile perspective that would help my own search business.

The “change ahead for agencies” that was discussed centered primarily on what we have known for some time, that full-on AORs are going away and more marketers are either finding specialized agencies to meet specific needs (like digital, PR, media) or they are using project work to satisfy specific initiatives central to their business.

The panel also talked about what “the next generation of search consultants” means.

Apparently big time search consultants are going to start undoing the things they have been pushing for years, like chemistry meetings and video introductions.  It seems search consultants are getting pressure from marketers to shorten their search cycle and streamline the process.  Something we have been doing for years.

There was one moment during the panel discussion that was quite amazing.


I wish I had captured video of the stunned silence that occurred when this group of high profile agency search consultants were asked the question “how can you help small and mid-sized agencies find their way to the C-Suite?”.


Big time search consultants are great at helping big spend marketers.  But when it comes to marketers spending at lower levels, these smaller spend marketers only have a few choices if they want to formally look for a new marketing agency for a project or a full-on assignment:

  1. Get referrals from friends
  2. Take meetings with agencies that reach out to them
  3. Hop on Google and spend time digging around for a new firm

This approach can be limiting and time-consuming for marketers.

With marketers changing the way they manage their marketing agency relationships, search consultants are going to have to change the way they manage their business if they are going to survive.

Part of the challenge for search consultants in making this change is that their models are built to support big fees.  There’s nothing else to drive their revenue.  Without the big fees, they can’t pay the big consultant salaries.  As long as this happens, smaller spend marketers are going to be left to their own efforts – or turn to a firm like ours.  A firm specifically designed to help smaller spend marketers.

At RSW, we have our agency outsourced lead generation business that “feeds the beast” and allows us to work with smaller fees and smaller assignments – or if a marketer chooses, pay nothing at all to get the help they need to find a better marketing agency.

So if you’re one of those marketers that spends $500k-$5M and one of those marketers looking for a specialty firm, drop us a line and we can talk about how we can help.



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.