Recently, Harley Hammerman, CEO of Metro Imaging and Geile/Leon client, told the Business Journal that selecting an advertising agency to promote his business was a matter of relationships. A few days ago the ANA, the Association of National Advertisers, and 4A’s, The American Association of Advertising Agencies, published guidelines on how to conduct an agency search to help marketers find the right agency and make the process as painless as possible, for both parties. It’s a big commitment to hire an agency. There’s a lot riding on the decision, and you want to get it right.
The agency search is a blessing and a curse. The blessing: for the agency, the opportunity to win new business; for the client, to form a relationship that could change their business. The curse: the process, which is about to be broken.
Most companies think that the RFP, is the way to go. Almost any agency will tell you it’s flawed. Historically, RFPs are used for vendors and contractors. Your agency is a consultant—it’s a relationship and our services can’t necessarily be compared. The beauty of agencies is that we all think and tackle situations differently. If you were to receive five RFPs from five different agencies—the answers would all be different. Thank goodness!
The key to a great relationship with your agency is finding one that fits you, understands your business and can deliver great results. This is not a one-size fits all deal. Not every client is right for every agency and vice versa.
So throw out your RFP form. Instead, do some research. Ask around. We (agencies) like to think that our clients would be happy to give a recommendation, because we have exceeded their expectations. Jump online and do a search for agencies, and make your short list. Then get some opinions from colleagues. Meet one-on-one with the agencies on you
r short list. Visit their space. Talk with your account team.
Finding an agency is a lot like dating. Certain criteria have to be met, but the spark on the first meeting is usually the tell-tale sign of a long and successful relationship.