In this guest post, Orange Sky CMO David Chenu (pictured below), who says he’s hired and fired plenty of agencies in his time, gives his six top tips to ensure any new agency marriage doesn’t fast end in a messy divorce…
So, you have decided you need a new agency. It might be a brand new pitch or perhaps your current agency is failing to perform and the consensus in your marketing department is that its time for ‘a pitch.’ You want to go to the market and see what other agencies are doing.
What can you lose ? There is increasing pressure for new ideas, more accountability and more transparency.
This is how the process often goes down… after you advise the market that you are putting the business up for pitch, your team bombards you with potential agencies. You look at who has launched some big campaigns. You find some gun creatives, some new talent and fresh business models – but how do you make the decision? Who will be involved? What are the key factors you should look at? How many agencies should be involved?
I’ve worked with many agencies on both local and global brands over the years. I’ve found the following questions can help one through the “speed-dating” process of selecting a new agency, and can help you set some benchmarks to capture your company’s expectations. Like any relationship, you don’t want to get to the end and find irreconcilable differences that could have been sorted out at the beginning!
Try using these questions first when selecting an agency – before you count the awards they have won – and you may be on the right track for a successful marriage.
What is the agencies vision for advertising over the next ten years? It’s important to think long term in this business, not just to the end of the financial year. A good way to approach this is paying close attention to the words they use when describing themselves, their vision and their mission. And while their actual vision statement may not give you a great deal of detail, the important thing is to pay close attention to how they describe and view business, and assess whether it is similar to your values.
What does success look like?
How does the agency articulate success? The agency needs to be on the same track as your company in terms of measures of success – you both should have the same targets and aiming for the same bullseye. In my experience, some typical success scenarios can include focusing on revenue outcomes, how market share percentages are tracking over the term of the campaign, measures of brand awareness (ie: mentions in targeted publications or on social media), lead generation metrics, customer acquisition, churn and so forth.
What is the agency’s culture? Is it similar to yours? This is a hard one to evaluate, but arguably one of the most important things to understand. Get the agency staff to explain it to you. What is it like working in the office? Who do they most respect? what do they want to be doing in five years ? Is there conflict in the agency and if there is how is it resolved? How is conflict resolved with clients? What inspires them?
Who are the senior agency partners working on your account? You want the best and you want the agency leaders.
Who else is working on your account and why? There is nothing more infuriating than having the ‘A team’ pitch and then you see a whole bunch of new faces in your first meeting! Ask who your team will be to ensure no unexpected surprises.
How long have the agency staff been employed? What do you do when you find out there is an 18 month churn rate in staff?
How would they describe the agency model? Is the agency business about advertising, communication, media, insights, innovation, etc? How do they demonstrate accountability and transparency ?
What will the agency do to win your business and retain it, for the long haul? It’s too expensive (and exhausting) to go through a pitch process every two years.
When client and agency are not ‘teaming’ or worse, not speaking – how would the agency approach conflict resolution? Arguments and conflict will happen, it’s how you resolve the situation and move on that’s important.