The Conversation Starter

During my 30 years in the ad business, I’ve been in hundreds of agency reviews. Most clients understand the importance of running a proper agency review. In my experience I’ve learned many things, among them are what I like to call “how not to pick an agency.”

Speed dating. Speed dating has its shortcomings, especially when it comes to finding the right agency. The client calls or sends you a few questions and picks a new agency based on a  five-minute conversation, chances are it will be a short-term relationship. How to avoid this: slow down and get to know the firms. It could mean a lot to your bottom line.

The world’s longest RFP. What I’m talking about is that massive 400-page RFP that tells you nothing about what the client needs. Of course, as the agency, you can’t talk to anyone. Simply stated, this is not the best way to pick your communications partner.

It’s all in the family. My cousin wrote the marketing plan. My brother designed the logo. Marketing meetings have become the new family get-togethers. Does this sound familiar? While your nephew always did such a good job taking care of the dog while you were on vacation, his integrated advertising campaign probably won’t deliver results. So, skip the family recipe with the side of web design; most shops don’t want to compete with your brother-in-law on marketing advice.

How low can you go? The client wants everything dirt cheap but expects great results. I asked one prospective client, “Is this how you would pick a doctor or a lawyer?” If dirt cheap is what you’re looking for, you’ll soon realize you’ll likely have to sacrifice quality, strategy or speed (or even all three).

After years and years of seeing these behaviors in practice, I decided to write a white paper on the art of choosing an ad agency. Yes, it is an art. The paper is geared to helping clients who don’t want to pick their next shop by speed dating or creating the world’s longest RFP. Check it out here.

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