March 1, 2007 — AgencyFinder.com Celebrates Tenth Year as Advertising Industry’s Largest Online Client/Agency Matchmaker
Richmond, VA (PrimeNewswire) – Business Partnering International’s AgencyFinder.com, the world’s largest online client/agency matchmaker, celebrates its tenth anniversary as of February 18, 2007. “In the Internet world, where businesses and business models seem to change daily, ours was so grounded that we’ve been able to adapt to evolutionary and revolutionary changes without compromising our basic model,” says Charles G. Meyst, Chairman of AgencyFinder.
“Our methodology uses search engine algorithms addressing an extensive selection-set of more than 400 data points, agency essays and client case histories that objectively pair up marketers with service firms that fit them best. Unlike earlier practices that focused primarily on brand name, creative portfolios and reputations, our new model introduced a valid and fair way to create a short list of well-qualified candidates for an agency search where every choice is a winner,” he explains. “Of course, the fact the service is free to clients helps, too.”
AgencyFinder.com has become a de facto standard for helping clients search online for new or additional agency partners. The service has made well over 7,600 such matches for accounts as small as a few thousand dollars to larger assignments like LegalZoom.com paired to Ralston360, Bend, Oregon; larger assignments like the $25 million review that paired American Century Investments with TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York; the $25 million review that paired DuPont’s Corian Division with Doner, Southfield, Michigan; and the mammoth $100 million agency review that paired Lowe’s Home Improvement Centers with McCann Erickson, New York.
Early Adoption A Challenge
AgencyFinder’s success has been hard-won over the past ten years. The service’s business model and process broke with tradition and threatened the shadowy world of agency search and selection by offering a transparent and objective process.
“There were quite a few people in the advertising world who didn’t understand what we were doing and why we were doing things the way we were,” Meyst acknowledged.
“Some viewed AgencyFinder as a threat, but most accepted us as a breath of fresh air.”
AgencyFinder’s practice of charging agencies an annual registration fee to be eligible for selection and invitation drew attention to a practice agency search consultants had engaged in for years. Prior to AgencyFinder’s debut, agencies often found themselves paying fees to search consultants for services like “portfolio reviews” or “new business advice” in order to be considered for future assignments. At the same time, these same search consultants were charging clients for organizing and managing the agency selection process. Many consultants still continue to charge both agencies and clients.
“Nobody had ever chosen to publicly challenge the consultants,” continued Meyst. “When AgencyFinder launched, we were very open about our agency fees; they’ve always been posted prominently for all to see. The press and some agencies mistakenly accused us of running a “pay-to-play” operation while failing to acknowledge what had been going on in the profession for years. I recall several heated discussions with reporters, agency principals and industry leaders about the subject. Sure we charge agencies an annual fee to be listed and participate in reviews – but we don’t charge clients anything for all the things we do to run their searches. When that all sinks in, the “pay-to-play” allegation vanishes!”
Although free to those who search, the service is subject to posted terms & conditions. Clients who fail to take their search past a certain point in the selection process and conclude, or who don’t update agencies and AgencyFinder in a timely fashion may be subject to a penalty surcharge. But AgencyFinder’s Meyst explains that the surcharge is a pre-qualification condition, intended to make sure every prospect that starts is serious about concluding their search and awarding the business to an invited agency.
The AgencyFinder Difference Makes A Difference
What makes AgencyFinder different? Client control.
AgencyFinder puts clients in control of the search process. According to AgencyFinder’s Meyst: “Most clients are capable and willing to manage the actual review. What they lack are the resources and expert ‘assistance’ needed to identify qualified candidates.”
“Clients have told us repeatedly that they don’t think they should have to pay someone to help them bring in a marketing partner,” Meyst continues. As a result, AgencyFinder.com provides free staff consulting to clients actively looking for an advertising agency, PR firm or other form of integrated agency. It’s at this interactive consulting stage that agency creative and chemistry is explored and evaluated.
This personal service was enough to get the attention of InfoCommerce in 2005 when they awarded the site with their “Model of Excellence” Award. InfoCommerce stated, “AgencyFinder is a fascinating blend of data-driven screening coupled with highly personalized assistance, placing it somewhere between a traditional buying guide and a search consulting firm. It’s a powerful combination.”
The relationships that AgencyFinder has helped broker over the past ten years have been more successful than the average agency-client marriage. While the industry average for an agency/client relationship is around three years, AgencyFinder has helped form relationships that have lasted nearly as long as AgencyFinder has been in business. “Hickman & Associates, located in Carmel, Indiana, was one of our first registered agencies,” Meyst explains. “In early ’98, a client found and hired Hickman through AgencyFinder. That client, located in Washington, DC, still works with Hickman today.”
A Look Back and A Look Ahead
Reflecting on the past ten years, AgencyFinder’s Meyst draws a distinct parallel between his experience in the agency new business consulting business (all prior to 1997) and the online search and selection business he now runs. “We had no assurances our concept would work. Now, having helped create thousands of new agency/client relationships, I look back and am really grateful for those first agencies that took a gamble by registering with us for what was the advertising industry’s first and only client/agency match-making service.”
AgencyFinder’s future is bright – according to Meyst – with opportunities both domestically and abroad. “As the world marketplace continues to open up, there will be a greater need to facilitate relationships across borders, and we’re already prepared. A cursory search of our database finds registered agencies in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Not all assignments will be multi-million dollar accounts. We’ll have to scale with the market and facilitate accounts of various sizes and make sure they get placed with agencies that are the right size to handle them.”
And if Meyst has anything to do with it, AgencyFinder.com is already poised to do so.
# # #
About AgencyFinder.com – AgencyFinder.com is a service of Business Partnering, Int. (BPI), a Virginia corporation founded in February of 1997. The service is unique in its match-making process for pairing advertising, public relations and marketing agencies with clients and is intended for use by companies seeking agency support for projects, campaigns or long-term relationships. Searching is free to marketers and supported with complimentary search consulting advice (telephone and on-site consultations) provided by BPI’s executive staff. Advertising agencies and public relations firms (right-sized for budgets less than $100,000 to more than $100 million) pay an annual registration fee to be in the online database and to be eligible to participate in reviews. www.agencyfinder.com
Contact: Mike Bawden
Principal – Bawden & Lareau Public Relations
563-359-8654 – phone
563-343-0411 – mobile