For Agencies Feeling Put-Upon by Procurement, Suddenly Search Consultants Don’t Seem So Bad
The following post appeared in the August 8th AdAge newsletter and begged for comment since search consultants seem to get hammered on a regular basis …
On June 29, the head of new business at DDB North America, Brandon Snow, fired off this tweet: “Gotta love this biz. RFI shows up today, for a response by July 6th. I truly believe clients think agencies don’t need holiday time off.”
Ill-advised as it may be to bemoan a chance to pitch a new account, Mr. Snow’s hardly the only exec frustrated by the agency review process these days. A few of the complaints on the list: hyper-condensed timelines; unfair requests by marketers to own speculative creative or strategic work; a lack of transparency about the size of the ultimate prize; and inadequate or no compensation to offset the costs of pitching. One new-business leader at a U.S. agency told Ad Age that of the seven pitches her shop is currently involved in, it’s only being compensated for one.
The spike in complaints about review processes coincides with a rise in client-led reviews and a decrease in the use of agency search consultants.
This article (find and read it in it’s entirety) by Rupal Parekh attracted more than 79 posts at last count …
The first posted response read: Agencies are commodities so there is nothing wrong with them being selected the same way other commodities are. This is obvious when you look at how they can’t even differentiate themselves on their websites. If managements’ ultra-fragile egos are hurt by this treatment, they should find another industry to work in.
I replied: Part of this problem lies in this article headline – every review should be Marketer-Led. Not to say that selector consultants or industry match-makers shouldn’t play a pivotal role in the ways others above (writing above) have already suggested, but the marketer should always take the lead role in their own review. Years ago, a well-known agency search consultant told us he needed to be so “controlling” because CMO’s were too busy to give the process their full attention! Can you imagine that – a CMO too busy to actively select their employer’s partner in destiny!
It’s good that the 4A’s and ANA publish and advocate process recommendations, but the majority of search volume falls outside their memberships. We find ourselves in the “high-ether” from time to time, but generally concern ourselves with small-to-medium clients and the thousands of agencies also entitled to professionally managed reviews. To see that happens, we devote front-end marketer dialogue to explain their responsibilities in the process and spell that out in our Advertiser Terms & Conditions.
Later, LA “VP fdf fdfd” wrote: Sandwiched between the $100mm campaign budgets requiring a full-service AOR and the $100 logo budget requiring a crowdsourcing platform, there is a vast marketplace of clients (luxury fashion, tech start-ups, entertainment, etc.) that require specialized, project-based solutions as opposed to all-in-one agency/partner relationships.
Seems there is a huge client need for consultancy within this space and find it interesting that more pitch consultants aren’t already actively involved.
I closed out with this: fdf fdfd – The companies you describe are less familiar with pitch consultants and would find a disconnect between their smaller marketing budgets and the magnitude of those consultant’s fees. We recognized that back in 1997 when we introduced our agency-funded match-making service.
This selector consultant issue and debate is destined to continue unabated for years to come. To each his own and to his own … Your thoughts? Have some great and not-so-great experiences to report? We’ll post them if you write ..