Marketers are too often dazzled by fancy offices and walls of awards and need to look under the hood to find their perfect agency partner when conducting a pitch, according to a new guide for marketers from independent media agency Indago Digital.
The How to Avoid Choosing the Wrong Digital Agency in 27 Steps guide, released today, offers practical and detailed advice for marketers from the pre-pitch, RFP phase through to pitching and decision-making. Doing your research and having a structured, standardised pitch process is critical to avoiding common traps and partnering with the right agency.
The guide was developed by Indago digital managing director Gary Nissim (main photo), who said: “I’ve worked in digital marketing for over 20 years. I’ve been involved in more than 500 new business pitches and invested an incalculable number of hours in them. Every one of those pitches has started with an RFP yet, to date, I haven’t experienced a procurement process that’s perfectly hit the mark.
“Time and time again we see advertisers fall into some common traps when they look for a digital agency. It’s frustrating for both marketers and agencies, so I am hoping this guide helps ease the process and results in some perfect matches.”
Among its raft of advice, the guide advises advertisers to consider key elements like:
- Why change agencies? Holding an RFP, onboarding a new agency, and building a new relationship takes time and effort. Consider trying to fix the relationship with the incumbent agency before going out to an RFP.
- Do your research: know what you want and need from a new agency – what is important to your ongoing success as a partnership? Make sure you test any suggested tools and innovations during the pitch process and meet the team who will be potentially working on your account.
- Define the process: you’ll only find your perfect agency partner through an RFP if your process is defined. Make sure you ask the right questions and create a structure that yields a standardised response you can base comparisons on. Use a score card and consider stakeholder consistency.
“We always recommend looking past the shiny things – when you’re looking for agencies to invite to pitch, avoid the pitfall of getting bedazzled by snazzy offices, a wall of awards or claims of industry leadership,” Nissim said.
“Do your research, and really consider the specialisations you’ll require most from the agency partner. Visit Glassdoor to establish what the agency culture is like and how they conduct themselves as an employer and seek out Google My Business reviews. Consider the agency’s thought leadership credentials – do they add value to the industry? Are their insights valued and shared?
“Beware of trying to swim with the big fish too – don’t just opt for the agency with the biggest clients, thinking it means they ‘know their stuff’. You don’t want to become the smallest client in the tank and fly under the radar. Similarly, some clients believe that partnering with a small agency and becoming the biggest account means you’ll get excellent account service.
I’ve discovered the best fit for a client is to commission an agency that works on accounts of a similar size.
“Finally, don’t think companies won’t bend the truth to win your business. The number of times I’ve heard another agency describe a cool Excel macro as ‘Artificial Intelligence’ or ‘Machine Learning’ is unbelievable. If you’re basing your decision on tools and innovations, try them out so you can ensure they do what’s promised.”
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