1. Are you experiencing sales and marketing’s “Perfect Storm”?
2. When your only option is a marketing partner search, here goes!
3. AgencyFinder announces Damiano as new Manager, Agency Relations
4. Frank commentary from a recent searcher
5. With limited time, there’s too much to do!
ARE YOU EXPERIENCING SALES & MARKETING’S PERFECT STORM?
Are your sales down 10, 20, 30, 40, 50% or more?
Is your marketing budget down 10, 20, 30, 40, 50% or more?
Is your department staffing down 10, 20, 30, 40, 50% or more?
As the Captain of “your” corporate ship, how will you navigate out of
this and survive? I guarantee there are agencies with answers, but
does that capacity and capability exist within your current marketing
That’s really your question to answer, not ours, but look at it this
way. In years past, when the economy was robust and money flowed
freely and you planned a hiking holiday in the rolling hills of
Virginia, your criteria for a guide might have been “physically fit,
handsome, personable and knows the area!” But in today’s economy you
plan to scale Mt. Everest and your guide criteria are much different:
“Knowledgeable, skilled, accomplished, brave, daring, precise, a
veteran of many successful climbs and one who can and will save your
life!” Today you’re looking to hire a guide for the Everest climb of
your business career.
If you recently held a strategy meeting with your marketing partner
(or if they didn’t think it was necessary) and if either gives you the
gut feeling that your partner is tapped out, then regardless of the
strain of doing so, it’s time to conduct an agency review. Search for
a full replacement or an addition; what you need depends on how you
answered our first three questions. The process is much like hiring a
new but critical employee; it’s not much fun but the effort is worth
every short-term inconvenience.
Our AgencyFinder process makes the marketing partner search relatively
easy, pain free, rapidly-paced, professionally guided, and offered at
no cost. We’ll help you find, evaluate, invite and hire the perfect
marketing partner. You can start immediately by registering here or
give us a call and we can begin over the phone. As we are known to do
since 1997, we provide confidentiality and as much or as little
counsel, guidance and direction as you need. References on request.
WHEN YOUR ONLY OPTION IS A MARKETING PARTNER SEARCH, HERE GOES!
It’s not our assignment to lead you to that decision, but we’re happy
to serve as your last-ditch sounding board. If you perceive you have
no other option, then let us guide you in “How to Find, Evaluate &
Hire a New Marketing Partner.”
Much is written about the process of hiring an advertising agency, pr
firm or marketing partner. The hiring process itself is relatively
easy – with a handful of finalists, you fine-tune and define the
requirements, come to agreement on fees for services, establish legal
terms and conditions, etc. The challenge however is not hiring, but
finding qualified candidates.
If one accepts the premise that every client wants the very best
marketing partner they can afford, then the task begins by defining
precisely what the client needs and wants in an agency. The client can
begin with a clean sheet of paper to define such attributes, or take
advantage of existing attribute “menus” which can be found at
appropriate third-party Internet web sites designed specifically for
If you accept the fact there are more than 30,000 advertising agencies
in the US alone, then it is imperative that each client reduce the
size of that list substantially in order to create the smaller, more
manageable invitational list. If such “cuts” were to be attempted
based on services desired (such as account management, creative, media
buying, direct marketing, etc.), little reduction would be seen in the
original list of 30,000 until the collection of desired services had
grown considerably. When clients are asked to identify some of the
most critical agency attributes, previous experience in category is
generally high on everyone’s list. Meaning, clients want to speak with
and consider firms that have previous or existing experience in their
business category. In this economy, there’s tremendous pressures to
see sales activity almost immediately or at least, protect from
further slides, few clients are willing to take the time, or make the
investment, to allow the new firm to become educated on their nickel.
The candidate identification process begins by finding firms with
experience in your particular business. Then it makes sense to screen
them further, looking for those that are able to provide the services
you want and need. Define and refine your list even further. Seek
those that have experience marketing goods or services to the people
who purchase your goods or services. If that means “females 25 – 40”
or “senior citizens,” then make that a condition. If geography or
location is important, define that as well. Overall experience (years
in business), size (generally staffing rather than capitalized
billings) plays a role, and in some cases, membership in specific
associations will add value.
Historically, clients have struggled to create the appearance that
they knew precisely what they wanted and in what form. To do so, they
cannibalized and adopted the fairly common RFP (Request for Proposal),
used for years by purchasing agents when seeking bids on commodity
items. RFP’s were sent to long and large lists of ill-assembled
“agencies” – often pulled from minimum-data alpha-ranked website
directories or name-only listings in telephone Yellow Pages, or from
mentions by business colleagues and media reps.
Such RFP invitations meant tremendous up-front labor for the client,
and resulted in relatively low rates of response, coupled with a
mixture of some qualified but many unqualified respondents creating a
significant burden for the client. Dissimilar agency materials had to
be sifted through for common information, and that information was
then posted to a client-created spreadsheet. The challenge was to find
qualified candidates and some basis (apples-and-apples) for comparison
and subsequent evaluation. Finally, in evaluating “creative”
candidates (i.e. – marketing partners, vendors, etc.) it is virtually
impossible to bid or place monetary value on something that is of such
esoteric value and subject to a myriad of interpretations. With few
exceptions, the creative services of a marketing firm can not and
should not be evaluated on a “price comparison” basis.
With the availability of the Internet and specific services designed
precisely for this task, there is almost no excuse for ever using an
RFP again to find an advertising agency. Alternatively, what is known
as the RFI (Request for Information) makes sense, for your search for
a marketing partner should be based on your evaluation of information
– an apples-and-apples examination of attributes; then of work
product, then of relationships (chemistry) and then of specific
suitability. With a list of carefully defined candidates in hand, it
now makes sense to extend an invitation to those candidates,
requesting just that information not already known to the searcher.
It may seem that defining the candidates’ list is the biggest
challenge. Agencies surprise many clients when what they thought might
be a sought after invitation is summarily dismissed by many who
receive it. The preparation and execution of “invitations” is of
itself a critical component, and often best left to third-parties that
have established agency contacts and have identified the most senior
agency executives responsible for new business development.
If and as the invitations are accepted and responded to, the client is
advised to hold telephone interviews as a first step. Successful
interviews (deemed so by both parties) should lead to the sending of,
and receipt of agency materials (agency brochure, relevant samples and
short letters of interest). Where the value of the account is
substantial, and the work expected from the agency is critical to the
client’s business success, clients should visit and tour each
preferred agency as the first face-to-face meeting between client and
agency. That tour will be enlightening, both in revealing the agency’s
full capabilities, plus it allows for the assessment of the agency’s
personality and the likelihood of good “chemistry” between all the
As a final step in the agency selection process, the client should
invite two or three “finalists” to present and propose (to you and
your management at your corporate headquarters) a strategic plan for
managing your business – during the following fiscal year or
appropriate fiscal period with a budget you are willing to reveal. And
to do so, you will need to furnish each candidate with a “marketing
brief” that encompasses vital historical statistics, information on
your company and on your marketing, advertising and public relations
activities in years prior. This must be an “apples & apples”
proposition, so instruct each candidate to use the specific budget
you’ve identified to construct their strategic plan. In other words,
you want to see how much and what is in each agency’s “basket” for the
same funds. Make it clear that you’re not promising to give unilateral
authority to spend those funds, but you are proposing that you’ll be
spending at that “rate” if all goes well.
A suggestion for a tie-breaker or “point-of-illustration.” In advance
of these final presentations, advise each contender that you also want
a detailed invoice for their presentation, as if they had already been
your agency-of-record and this was a regular assignment. You’re not
agreeing to pay that invoice, but you will use it to make further
If you follow such a plan, assign and allow qualified individuals
within your company to manage such a process, you will be successful
in identifying and hiring a powerful marketing partner! For that list
of perfect candidates, start here:
AGENCYFINDER ANNOUNCES DAMIANO AS NEW MANAGER, AGENCY RELATIONS
P&G veteran will be responsible for the continued growth and
development of the largest online database of agency information in
the advertising and marketing profession, worldwide.
Charles Meyst, Chairman and CEO of AgencyFinder, announced the
appointment of Jon Damiano as the search and selection service’s new
Manager of Agency Relations. Mr. Damiano’s primary responsibility will
be the continued expansion of the AgencyFinder database of US-based ad
agencies, PR firms and marketing consultancies.
The AgencyFinder database currently includes information on over 6,400
agency offices operating in over 45 countries. The majority of those
offices are located in the United States.
“Even in these rough economic times, we’re seeing clients come to
AgencyFinder to find new and additional marketing service agencies to
help them through,” said Mr. Meyst. “Jon’s primary responsibility will
be to make sure we’re recruiting and retaining the best agencies in
America to be part of the online portfolio we make available to
clients at no charge.”
The firm’s offices – based in Richmond (VA) and London – has continued
to see vigorous search and business development activities through
their respective web sites from both clients and agencies, but the
personal interaction with the AgencyFinder staff seems to make the
difference. “There is a lot of ‘tire-kicking’ going on right now,”
explained Mr. Meyst. “And that’s pretty easy to do online, that’s why
we insist on personal interactions with every client. It’s imperative
the agencies who subscribe to our service understand that.”
“There may not be many people better equipped to do that than Jon
Damiano,” continued Mr. Meyst. According to the AgencyFinder Chairman,
it was Mr. Damiano’s experience working in the consumer-products world
at global marketing powerhouse Procter & Gamble and Reynolds that made
him a top contender for the agency-relations position.
“I think I bring an important voice the agency needs to hear when
they’re considering the service AgencyFinder provides,” explained Mr.
Damiano. “I’ve been on the client side and I’ve worked with agencies.
I’ve seen agencies that were a good fit from the start and I’ve seen
some disasters. It will be my job to make sure agency new business
people will see how AgencyFinder can help reduce the risk of a total
failure to connect during the pursuit of a new account.”
“AgencyFinder reduces that risk by making sure the right agencies are
in the running for the right accounts,” said Mr. Damiano. “That’s why
we ask agencies and clients to complete detailed questionnaires and
provide comprehensive information about their capabilities (from
agencies) and the nature of the assignment (from clients).
Mr. Damiano’s professional background includes over fifteen years of
marketing and business-building experience with some of America’s best
known brands while at P&G and Reynolds Consumer Products. He also has
a long history of successfully managing the agency-client relationship
from the client’s side of the desk in marketing planning and agency
2008 Search Activity on AgencyFinder
AgencyFinder assisted in the placement of over $278 million in new
business with advertising agencies and PR firms in the US and UK last
year. The average account size was in excess of $1 million.
WITH LIMITED TIME, THERE’S TOO MUCH TO DO!
That’s why we designed this newsletter with your schedule in mind. If
things for you are fine, great. Just keep your techniques for success
a secret. You don’t need what we can provide.
… AND FINALLY.
The rumors and reports seem to be unanimous – we’re all working harder
than ever for less than ever, but it’s keeping food on the table and
gas in the tank. If you’re lucky, sneak some quality time-off! We are
experiencing much of the same, but the tunnel for everyone seems
shorter and open at the other end. Pass the word; tell your friends;
let us help you and them find a great partner!
P.S. – It’s time for a website redux here; we welcome your thoughts
As we have since 1997, we look forward to getting you face-to-face
with a great agency. Then & Now – We Built it For You!
Charles G. Meyst, Chairman/CEO
Business Partnering International, Ltd.
Vantage Place, 4327 Cox Road
Glen Allen, Virginia 23060 USA