The chance I take as an agency search consultant when I manage a search for a marketing client is that I risk not making a dime.
Not a position many would want to put themselves in!
When a marketer engages me to help them find a new/better agency, if they ultimately don’t like what I put in front of them, I don’t get paid.
Because I don’t cost you, the marketer, anything to bring me on board (we take a small commission from the winning agency), I get nothing and we all pack up and go home.
Fortunately, the 35 searches we’ve managed since starting the business in 2010 have all ended in a great place.
Not that I need a fire lit under me to do a great job for my marketing clients, but the added incentive of only being paid when my marketing client selects a new marketing agency, certainly helps!
Here are some of the things I do that have helped me create some great agency-client relationships for brands like Stein Mart, Jack-in-the-Box, Mercy Health, and Legrand:
- Start big. We have a database of approximately 8,000 agencies so we start big and broad when we begin a search…looking for firms in our database that appear to meet the criteria outlined for your search.
- Smarter Pre-Qualification. Once we narrow down the search to about 200 agencies, we review websites, news about the agency, etc. ultimately narrowing the list to about 30 firms. These 30 firms are asked specific questions about experiences they’ve had that are similar to yours (without revealing who you are).
- Look Under the Hood. On the other side of our business we manage the sales function for marketing service firms. These direct relationships with firms gives us a unique perspective that helps us know when an agency is blowin’ smoke and when they aren’t. Of note: It’s rare that one of the agencies gets involved in a search.
- Diligent about Due Diligence. I can tell when an agency is being lazy in their responses to RFIs or when they are on a Q&A/Chemistry call with you or in their final pitch presentation. A lazy agency now does not bode well for the success of a relationship later. We only put the best agencies into the final consideration set.
- Test Thinking, not Just Creative. I tell agencies that they all basically do the same thing…and what really separates out the good agencies from the great agencies is their thinking. It’s not just a creative partner you need…it’s a business partner that is going to be more strategic and think about your business to help advance your cause.
There are many other “little” things I do to make for a great agency search.