I was recently called out (in a good way) in an article by Bulldog Reporter’s Richard Carufel.  Richard attended this year’s Ad Age Small Agency Conference where I had the distinct pleasure of joining a panel that consisted of three other industry veterans, discussing the topic of agency new business.


The one thing that set me apart from the others on the panel was the fact that I live on both sides of the agency-client world – which historically has greatly benefited marketers looking for new marketing agencies.

In addition to helping marketers find better fit agencies to support their business, our sister company, RSW/US, manages agency new business programs for over 50 agencies throughout the U.S.  These relationships give us exposure unmatched in the industry.

We understand better than most, how agencies work, how they think, and how they approach winning the hearts and minds of marketers.  We see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

One ugly thing we see among agency clients and agency prospects alike is the ease with which they default to talking about themselves and not listening to their marketing prospects.  Starts with the intro meeting, where they flip open the Powerpoint and start into the capabilities presentation, when they should come to the table asking good smart questions to learn about you and our business.tumblr_static_blah_stamp_2

I see it on the AgencySearch side too.  I’ve managed about 30 searches since the start of the company in 2010 and have read over 200 RFIs and sat through close to 100 final pitch presentations.

What separates out the good agencies from the great agencies are those that make it about  you…and not about them.

I tell our clients and prospects that they all do the same s#@t.  What makes a good agency great is one that can think and ask and not just be a great creative partner, but also be a solid business partner.

So what does this mean for you, the marketer?

Means you need to keep an eye out for this behavior at the very start of the process.  I’m sure you have 100’s of agencies reaching out to you every week.  Listen to what they’re saying and telling you and how they’re approaching the initial engagement.  Do they know you, your business?  Do they have experience that might give them some exposure to similar challenges you’re facing?

Starts at the first touch point and carries all the way through the final pitch presentation.

Keep your eyes open and make sure it’s their ears that are listening…and not only yours!