How to evaluate the agency pitch

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While there’s obviously work to be done in developing a fair evaluation grid and evaluation system during an agency search, preparation needs to begin even before you pull the trigger on an agency search

Considering that the purpose of your agency review, how you propose to brief agencies and who you select to participate in your evaluation process, all play a role in a fair and transparent evaluation.  And the more diligent you are about structuring your proposed evaluation, the better the result you’ll likely achieve.

So with that as the context, here are some essential steps to help set any agency search evaluation up for success:

Be clear about your search and what you want to evaluate

This essentially sets the groundwork for everything – defining why you’re initiating your search and the questions and challenges you’ll then want addressed.  Any shortcuts in the planning at this stage will short-change you and your team’s ability to evaluate effectively.  And if you haven’t already done so – consider hiring an agency search consultant to help you.

Align stakeholders

Once you’ve defined your evaluation criteria, your stakeholders have to meet and agree this is how agencies will be evaluated. Aligning stakeholders before you get started is pivotal in your ability to evaluate as an organization rather than as individuals with separate agendas.

Dump preconceptions

As you align stakeholders on your approach, criteria and the challenges you want addressed, your evaluation team has to dump any baggage and preconceptions.

Easier said than done sometimes

But you need to be explicit in having this happen. This is particularly important if team members are expecting a creative presentation and the ask is focused on chemistry and approach.

Be transparent about what you’re evaluating

Being transparent with agencies about what you’re evaluating (and indeed why), will not only facilitate a better search process, it’ll lead your search team to a more informed choice of which agency is best for your business and why. Sharing your evaluation criteria helps agencies shape their presentations and hone in on what’s really important in what you’re looking for.

Develop a meaningful evaluation grid

Any evaluation grid needs to be a meaningful reflection of the key attributes of your search. But just as important, evaluation grids should be straightforward while allowing for an analysis that’s more than just a score.  A “5 out of 10” will be meaningless unless you have context, comments and individual insights on what was presented.  Find out more on developing a meaningful scorecard here.

Everyone participates against the same framework

Even though you’ve aligned your stakeholders in advance of agency presentations beginning, your search team should be briefed to evaluate presentations based on the agreed search criteria – and only the agreed search criteria.  And if you have stakeholders who can’t attend all presentations, they don’t get to vote – it’s unfair to allow participation on some agency presentations and not on others.

The search consultant doesn’t vote

The job of your search consultant – if you have one – is to provide objective, neutral input – not to weigh-in on agency performance.  Ask your search consultant for guidance, help to weigh the pros and cons – but don’t ask your consultant to vote – they need to be neutral at all times. 

A little pre-planning around how you propose to evaluate your agency can save considerable time, disagreement and potential misalignment that could otherwise land you with the wrong agency.

Need help to align your stakeholders for your agency search?


Stephan Argent is Founder and Principal at Listenmore Inc  offering confidential advisory to marketers looking for truly independent insight and advice they can’t find anywhere else. Read more like this on our blog Marketing Unscrewed / follow me @StephanArgent

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