It occurred to me as we were writing a client proposal recently, that our usual approach to creating robust methodologies is to define the ideal final outcome first, and then work backwards. That way we’ve always got something to work towards, ensuring ideas and concepts ladder-up to the ideal end-state.
So it occurs to me this week to take the same approach and share the ideal end-state in an agency pitch process, by providing five key hallmarks that are helpful to aim for when conducting an agency pitch. Of course this will vary depending on what business you’re in, the reasons for your search and perhaps the questions you ask during your process, but here are five that can really set your process apart:
You learned as much about yourself and your own organization as you did about the agencies you reviewed
Because agency relationships are dependent on the clients they serve, they’re as much about chemistry and fit with your own organization as they are about the agencies themselves. If you’ve asked the right questions and really taken time to look at the pros and cons of each agency, while stacking them up against your incumbent agency’s performance, you should glean some really good insight into your own organization and you work as a team.
Your eyes were opened to what the market really has to offer
Our business is moving so quickly and agency models evolving so rapidly, that unless you’re in the unique position of having gone through an agency search in the last six months or so, an agency pitch is going to be an eye opener. In my view, every pitch should have a seamless connection between brand and digital offerings, and how the market has evolved to meet that connection continues to be a fascinating area of our business.
Feedback was consistent
If a pitch has gone well, your feedback should be reasonably consistent across all stakeholders. In addition to your internal stakeholders, consider those agencies that were rejected along the way. Where possible, we like to take time to give feedback to agencies not selected personally. If we’ve done our job well, the most common thing we hear after giving feedback is, “that’s a fair comment…”. It underscores the evaluation process was thoughtful and accurate, and reinforces decisions that were made along the way.
Your team is and was aligned
Sounds easy, but we’ve seen emotions get seriously high when evaluating agency pitches. The best way to get that alignment is to take extra time to ensure stakeholders were listened to, issues were addressed and your evaluation criteria clearly defined before you went to market for an agency. Not taking time to really define the kind of agency you’re looking for or indeed your real evaluation criteria, are primary issues preventing team alignment.
Your process was fair
No matter what kind of agency you’re looking for or whatever the circumstances, you need to ensure your agency search process is fair and transparent. Making sure agencies understand both the process they’re following, together with the evaluation criteria by which they’ll be judged are key factors in ensuring fairness and transparency. Choosing an empowered search team and holding them to the highest standards of governance during the process will also give you confidence your process was beyond reproach.
These are just some of the hallmarks to aspire to as you prepare for an agency search process. If you’re in doubt or the process seems overly complex, employ the services of a professional agency search consultant to help you and your team set yourselves up for success.
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
Photo: Michael Mandiberg