Agency Search Tips

Going Out for Business! For as Long as Supplies Last!

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Boss Man That’s right, in this declared/non-declared recession/non-recession and for as long as our energies last, we’re offering agency search services to advertisers at absolutely no cost, as in “free.”

For Advertisers, you know the adage about advertising in a downturn, so if you’re looking to maintain or add to your existing customer base… use our tools and agency search service to explore the world of agencies. Stateside and worldwide and as you need them. : https://lnkd.in/eW7-QVS

For Agencies, if you’re looking to connect with our advertisers to add and serve new clients in your roster… enroll now and build a magnetic profile. More than 500 data fields at your command. Select from three affordable plans! : https://lnkd.in/dhK3ksf8

The Internet’s Pioneer in Client/Agency Match Making. AgencyFinder! (we’re not going anywhere)

Searching and Selecting a New Marketing Firm? Site Visit Not Optional!

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Dear Chuck,

So glad you gave us process, tools and guidance to conduct our review. What an eye-opener! I came to you looking for someone to help us publicize our new software, a legal guide to living together. The basic premise offers self-help documents, akin to “wills” allowing the equivalency during serious illness or death. In particular, these documents are meant to serve the gay community.

Starting with a broad brush, we worked through more than a few preliminary search engine selections; then studied each agency profile and website. Next we made a heavy cut, working down to a short list of 3 prominent PR firms in Chicago (wanted to visit one of those); and another “integrated marketing communications firm” in Milwaukee. Our physical visit to the Chicago firm was best described as a disaster, even better as an insult. There was no indication they were expecting us, no welcome mat, no greeter board, just a sullen receptionist. We were ushered into a large conference room adjacent to the lobby (easy-in, easy-out) to meet four stone-faced suited gentlemen. There was little informal warm-up, just a quick unemotional debriefing. Maybe we were too small; maybe our target was off-putting. Regardless we were politely shown the door.

Now to the contrary. In Milwaukee there was a greeter board in the parking lot.  A guide-rope up the sidewalk, another greeter board in the lobby. And a smiling female greeter. We were offered coffee and donuts, shortly after, a warm handshake was offered by a rather business-casual dressed young man.  Welcome to Milwaukee and welcome to our firm! They covered everything; first a thorough de-briefing, then expectations, then an office tour to see and meet the staff, finally a meeting with the principals. An enthusiastic wrap-up, a “we want your business” with a promise of a detailed proposal. No mystery who won our account! Things are going great; so is business. So pleased we found AgencyFinder. https://www.agencyfinder.com/

Advertisers – Do You Really Want to Hire a Digital Agency?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

It begs the question – what is a digital agency? A reasonable definition says a digital agency focuses primarily on marketing your business, products and services in the digital world. This is done through website design and development, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), content marketing, paid online advertising, social media, email marketing and other digital services.

Note the absence of television, radio, magazine, newspaper, Out-of-home, and direct mail. If you search for a “digital agency” you may well find candidates as first described. But if you want to explore any of the media alternatives starting with television, a truly “digital agency” is not for you. However, the more established traditional agencies that were quick to gravitate to the inclusion of digital technologies didn’t abandon their more fundamental tried and true counterparts. Those firms can be found using terms like integrated marketing communications firms, marketing firms, or just plain old ad agencies. Here at AgencyFinder, we offer advertising, branding & design, digital & interactive, direct marketing, integrated marketing communications, media planning & buying, public relations and sales promotion. But likewise, when you speak with those, be sure to check to make sure they can include the latest in digital technologies. Overall, when speaking to candidate agencies, be sure to learn if their menu will include all the options you want to consider. Search here if you like: https://www.agencyfinder.com/define-your-ideal-agency-for-us/

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No Bones About It – Why This is the Right Time to Hire a New Marketing Firm

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Ask yourself – is your current agency or in-house group providing creative and tactical ideas for developing relevant online content right now while the country is again being disrupted; by inflation, throngs of illegals breaching our southern borders, the SCOTUS protests and the unbridled spending on the Ukrainian war? Are they thinking about how to use this time to help you creatively drive engagement, traffic or calls to your business? If your business has lost internal marketing support is your agency stepping up to fill in those gaps? Regardless of the challenges we all face, there are ways to continue to market and promote a brand. Finding the right PR, digital or marketing agency can transform these challenges into opportunities.

  COVID-19 gave us plenty of time to think. If you have anything to do with marketing, that disruption likely caused a lot of indecision. Hiring a marketing, digital or PR partner is about identifying the right agency and talent that understands your industry and how to mitigate the uncertainty of that pandemic and now the new disruptions. And it never ends! They must have a firm understanding of what it takes to continue building brand awareness and sales. If you have an agency or in-house department that is not pulling their weight, use this time wisely to consider searching for a new partner.

Your Criteria
There’s the temptation to search for an agency “type.” As in digital, experiential, direct, integrated, public relations and so on. Don’t start with type. Start with experience. Does this agency have relevant experience in your industry, do they understand the nuances and personalities of the people you are targeting? Do they have the right type of talent, experience and background that brings fresh thinking? Are they equipped to work remotely with your company and team to turn projects around on budget and deadline? Are they willing to share meaningful insights that can help accelerate the growth of your brand?  Are they the right size, fit, responsiveness and willing to do what it takes to ensure the seamless execution and implementation of any marketing challenge?

Your Search
In the final analysis, many options exist for identifying a new marketing partner. Many of which are impersonal and lack the insights, details and information necessary to make a good decision. For over 20 years we’ve been connecting marketers and advertisers with agencies and agencies with new clients. We provide an elegantly curated, powerful, complimentary and efficient, platform to identify and evaluate agencies. The combination of an on-board search engine and extensive agency-produced profiles allows for identifying and targeting the most appropriate candidates.

So is this the right time to hire a new marketing firm? See for yourself. Maybe the perfect agency is just waiting to help you through these uncertain times. And the recent turn of events with Roe vs Raid driving new protests leading to another unheard of challenge. Search a bit, take a look – you have nothing to lose and you may be surprised at what you find!

The Top 10 Worst US Marketing Firms

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Finding and identifying the Best Agencies is relatively easy. But the Worst! That’s an entirely another matter. For the worst, we invited a selection from some of our closest and credentialed colleagues and gave them some homework. They each were to identify 25 agencies of any discipline and collect tabulative information. Type, Size, Age, Category Experience, Services, SMA, Listed Clients, Testimonials (if any), then look and feel of the website. We collected, discussed, pared down and eventually produced the coveted Top 10. With no further ado, here they are:

The Top 10 Worst US Marketing Firms

  • ADSRUS
  • International Marketing IMU
  • Period Collective
  • WhyNot Ltd.
  • Reflection Backers
  • White Papers West
  • Lightning Strikes
  • Jake, Ted & Lew
  • The Principles
  • Desciplinarians

That information was collected, examined again and summarily discarded – for who are we or any one or group to make such judgements. If there’s any indication of greatness or worstness, it’s client comments. Would you be surprised to learn there were no negative client comments?

People gravitate to Top Lists, but by this illustration, Worst or Best is only good for the “Comminglier” who stands to garner coveted traffic. Might we call that  a racket! If you would prefer “perfect-match” agencies, you’ll find them here  – for free!

Why this is the Right Time to Hire a New Ad Agency, Digital Agency, PR firm and Others

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Why this is the Right Time to Hire a New or Replacement Ad Agency and Others

Is your current agency or in-house group providing creative and tactical ideas for developing relevant online content during these COVID-19 and country-wide rioting disruptions in business? Are they thinking about how to use this time to help you creatively drive engagement, traffic or calls to your business? If your business has lost internal marketing support is your agency stepping up to fill in those gaps? Regardless of the challenges we all face, there are ways to continue to market and promote a brand. Finding the right PR, digital or marketing agency can transform these challenges into opportunities.

COVID-19 has given us time to think. If you have anything to do with marketing, this disruption is likely causing a lot of indecision. Hiring a marketing, digital or PR partner is about identifying the right agency and talent that understands your industry and how to mitigate the uncertainty of the pandemic. They must have a firm understanding of what it takes to continue building brand awareness and sales. If you have an agency or in-house department that is not pulling their weight, use this time wisely to consider searching for a new partner.

Your Criteria
Consideration at a safe distanceThere’s the temptation to search for an agency “type.” As in digital, experiential, direct, integrated, public relations and so on. Don’t start with type. Start with experience. Does this agency have relevant experience in your industry, do they understand the nuances and personalities of the people you are targeting? Do they have the right type of talent, experience and background that brings fresh thinking? are they equipped to work remotely with your company and team to turn projects around on budget and deadline? Are they willing to share meaningful insights that can help accelerate the growth of your brand?  Are they the right size, fit, responsive and willing to do what it takes to ensure the seamless execution and implementation of any marketing challenging?

Your Search
In the final analysis, many options exist for identifying a new marketing partner. Many of which are impersonal and lack the insights, details and information necessary to make a good decision. For over 20 years we’ve been connecting marketers and advertisers with agencies and agencies with new clients. We provide an elegantly, curated, powerful, complimentary and efficient, platform to identify and evaluate agencies. The combination of an on-board search engine and extensive agency-produced profiles allows for identifying and targeting the most appropriate candidates.

So is it the right time to find a new marketing partner? See for yourself. There may be the perfect agency just waiting to help through these uncertain times. And the recent turn of events that lead to rioting has added another unheard of challenge. You have nothing to lose and you may be surprised at what you’ll find.

10 Least Useful Trends in Agency Websites

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Tim Williams pulled together many thoughts and comments I’ve made over the years regarding agency websites, but this is perfect. Please pay attention and follow his excellent lead!

Do you know what percentage of serious new business prospects visit your website? 100%. They all do. Because all prospective buyers of your services want to know what exactly what it is you’re selling. And although different marketers might want to know different things about your firm, they’re all ultimately looking to find one thing: expertise.

Marketers are interested in your firm because you have expertise they can’t duplicate in house. And while agency websites have generally migrated toward simpler design, easier navigation, and more mobile-friendly templates, here is Ignition’s list of 10 recent trends in agency sites that are likely to work against you in new business.

1. Mysterious business model

This is by far the most counterproductive feature of agency websites because most firms are so desperate to appeal to everyone that they describe their firms in ways that end up appealing to no one. The “about us” section avoids putting a stake in the ground and instead uses such wide-ranging language that clients have an infernally difficult time knowing if this is the type of help they’re looking for or not.

Today’s marketers are not looking for an agency that can do everything (which they know doesn’t exist) and instead are actively on the hunt for what they call “best in class” competencies or market expertise. If you fail to say what (competencies) or who (markets) you know best, you’re passing up opportunities with the type of sophisticated clients you say you most want on your roster.

2. Perplexing people section

It usually surprises agencies to hear that research shows the most-often visited section on an agency website is “our people.” Unfortunately, in an apparent move to democratize the agency and make everyone look equally important, it’s now fashionable for agencies to put up a photo of literally every employee, right down to the receptionist. Then, in addition to this type of photographic overkill, agencies make it difficult for website visitors to find the leadership of the agency because they are scattered throughout a very long web page, often with no titles shown. If and when the prospect does find the key people they’re looking for, the bios are often reduced to 200-word descriptions that focus more on hobbies and personal interests than professional expertise.

3. Simplicity taken too far

Many agencies have fallen victim to what Einstein warned about when he said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not too simple.” Far too many agency sites are simple to the point of too simple — long on style and short on substance.

Hiring an agency isn’t like buying a software subscription, where a scroll-down series of icons with captions can make the sale. You’re selling custom problem-solving. The purchase risk in hiring an agency is exponentially higher than most online products and services.

4. Selling drills instead of holes

Harvard’s Ted Levitt famously taught his marketing students that no one ever buys a three-quarter-inch drill; they buy the expectation of a three-quarter-inch hole. The buyer seeks an end, and the drill is only the means. Professional service firms like agencies are in the bad habit of selling drills instead of holes — inputs instead of outcomes — which turn into commoditized bullet-point lists labeled “our services.”

As marketing experts, agency professionals should know that buyers are looking for solutions (benefits), not services (features). Putting up a laundry list of capabilities is a lazy and ineffective way to demonstrate your expertise. The best agency websites describe solution sets, which are supported by specific competencies. Citing capabilities by themselves is like listing the chemical ingredients on the front label of a Tide bottle instead of promising clean, fresh-smelling clothes.

5. Actualities in place of stories

Eavesdrop on random client-agency meetings and you’re likely to hear the agency extol the virtues of “storytelling.” Agency creatives preach the idea that brands can benefit from the same dynamism baked into the world’s best novels, movies, and TV shows. Then on their own websites agencies resort to showcasing the same dull facts and figures most clients don’t care about in the first place: founding date, growth rate, number of employees, awards won, honors achieved, ad infinitum. This hardly constitutes a story but is rather more like a submission to Dun & Bradstreet.

What’s the story of your agency? How did it come into existence and why? What difference are you trying to make in the world? The best examples of agency stories are not only verbal but also visual. The same goes for the dreaded “case history.” Much better to tell a “case story,” complete with characters, a plot, conflict, and resolution.

6. Failing to demonstrate fit

“Is this the agency partner we need right now, for this particular brand, to solve this particular problem?”

That’s the question marketers have in mind when they’re surfing through the pages of your website. The ever-insightful Clayton Christensen argues that we as buyers “hire” products and services to perform a job for us, which he says applies to everything from milkshakes to consulting firms. Your task, as the seller, is to show the buyer what jobs you’re best suited to perform. If your website is so nebulous that anybody could be a fit, then no one will identify as a fit. An excellent example of this principle in action is the agency Quarry in Ontario, Canada, who actually uses the word “Fit” in their navigation bar.

7. Selling out of context

Agencies are notorious for “portfolios in space” — examples of work with no connection to the business problems they were designed to solve. The worst example of this is the online portfolio that is broken down by medium — television, print, digital, outdoor — as if the client is shopping for a “television agency.” This is inside out thinking at its very best (or worst). If you have an impressive collection of work, it will be even more impressive if you give it some context other than the marketing channel in which it appeared. This would be like an architect showing work classified by building materials rather than by type of environment.

8. Overvaluing the fun factor

Do clients want to work with an agency that’s amusing and entertaining? No doubt they would prefer a team with a sense of humor over one that takes itself too seriously. But prospective clients aren’t Googling for “fun agencies.” Rather, they pretty much assume most agencies have a healthy fun factor (at least compared to the corporations where most clients work). For that reason, a fun culture is not differentiating. In fact, “We’re fun” has for some time been included on Ignition’s official top ten list of undifferentiating things agencies say about themselves. Should your site be lighthearted, engaging, and maybe even slightly witty? Sure, you’re an agency after all. Just don’t devote all of your digital real estate to trying to out-fun the other guys. If this were plotted on your website brief, it would be under “tone and manner,” not “reasons to believe.”

9. Uncommitted content strategy

Do your blog posts, white papers, or other artifacts of thought leadership on your website add up to strategic integrity? Or do these articles ramble into so many different areas that prospects have a hard time knowing how to think about you? A focused, consistent content strategy is undoubtedly something your firm recommends to its clients. This is just a matter of taking your own advice.

10. Pleasing instead of polarizing

Quick, name the world’s strongest brands. Most of them have not only ardent supporters, but virulent detractors. People who love them, and people who hate them. This is actually one of the key characteristics of a successful brand, and what’s true for consumer brands is just as true for professional service brands. When we strive to present ourselves as universally lovable and acceptable, we miss the opportunity to make ourselves strongly appealing to a select group of prospects. The best agencies — and their websites — are willing to advance points of view that are provocative. Agency professionals are famously thin-skinned, so the idea that some audiences might actually disagree with them goes against their nature. But it’s better to be loved and rejected by some than ignored by everyone. That’s the very essence of a strong brand.

All this said, there are many agencies that have an outstanding online presence. They tend to be the ones who apply to their own firms the same advice they give to their clients. Want a remarkable website? Just practice what you preach.

Propulsion is written by Tim Williams of Ignition Consulting Group, a global consultancy devoted to helping agencies and other professional firms create and capture more value. 

Not The Time For An Advertising Agency Search!

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Why in the world would you embark on an agency search at a time like this when you’re busy keeping 6 feet distant and washing your hands? We’ve all been holding our breath, waiting for this Corona virus to pass. We’ve been asked to wait, to shelter-in-place to see if we could slow the transmission and contagion of this “silent killer.” And for the majority, we’re all working from home or an empty office.

As they say, these are trying times. Opinions will vary, but we’ve had a chance to witness how our agencies hold up under great duress.  We’ve been the receptor of their plans for now and when the silent killer is gone. President Trump postulates the economy will vault back, maybe even better than it was. Under the circumstance, what advice has your agency, be it advertising, digital or public relations offered in the way of suggested strategy and action for that time?

If your agency came forth with definitive suggestions, with actions to stay the course, great! However, if their inaction or failure to lead is the straw that broke the camel’s back (a pre-Corona expression), you may have decided it’s time for a replacement agency.

You’re right, this isn’t the time for extensive travel, and high-touch, kum ba yah gatherings and presentations. But it’s the perfect time to begin identifying your agency candidates. So begin by identifying those in your organization who should play a role in the process. Solicit their thoughts for attributes, characteristics, personalities and then compile that information. Specifically, what category experience should they have? In your vertical or aligned others? What about services, location, size, years in business or memberships? And in case you haven’t encountered it or given it pause, what about conflicting accounts?

Now take your finished list and go looking. Google is too imprecise so don’t be tempted unless you’re prepared to do tons of work. Better to go to those that have already done the heavy lifting. At your command you have “directories” and “database services.” With directories, think “Yellow Pages.” Data ordered primarily by alpha and location. You navigate as you see fit. Database services utilize on-board search engines that you use to specify, then discover who in their database satisfies your criteria. Some will even handle the challenging task of preparing and sending invitations. A few popular directories include Agency Spotter, Ad Forum and Clutch. Agency Match and our AgencyFinder are databases and somewhat lonely in that regard.

Final point being – now is the perfect time to begin your agency search if that’s what you believe is needed.

 

The Elephant Isn’t Always in the Room

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Having played a pivotal role in hundreds of ad agency searches over our 20-years, we’ve witnessed surprise and disappointment. And the elephant isn’t always in the room. Whether you’re an agency or a client planning to search for an agency, it’s important to stress that there are no hard and fast rules for running an agency search, nor are there any laws on the books that dictate the “process” or penalties for non-compliance. It’s not unusual for a non C-Suite individual to take the helm, to engage a consultant or search service, or to begin a Google search to do-it-themselves. In all cases they represent to the invited agencies, and truly believe themselves that they are “authorized” to be running the review.

Agencies-in-the-know have learned to ask questions; many questions. Like “What’s your process?” “What other individuals will be involved in the decision-making?” “Do you have an incumbent and will they be asked to participate?” Some clients will hedge answering, so based on experience a wise agency would choose to withdraw. That is, unless the agency is seriously pressed for new business and associated revenue.

So a review process might proceed with telephone interviews, an orderly examination of candidates, often agency site visits that progress to the identification of “finalists.” Finalists make final presentations, the work product of substantial agency time, creativity, expense and lost sleep. Then the process stalls. The original announced decision date comes and goes. The once-dependable review manager isn’t returning calls or emails. Then comes surprise and disappointment – even those led to believe they had the “inside track” and that they were favored, receive their “Dear John” email and little more. Not who was selected and why; not how or who made the decision, not why they weren’t the favorite.

We sometimes manage to discover the Elephant. Might turn out the CEO worked with an agency elsewhere before, and happened to tell them earlier they were running a review. The “ringer agency” pitched the CEO privately and the CEO pulled rank. Sorry! No apologies or explanation. We know of one review manager who resigned in protest.

The Lesson? Everything is fair in love, war and agency search! Be advised.

#adagencysearch #agencysearch #

Media Agency Pitch Process Lacks Clarity On Client Goals, Report Says

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

by   Courtesy MediaPost Agency Daily

Media and marketing consultant ID Comms  and the 4As released a study today based on a survey of media agency executives that highlights perceived flaws in the agency pitch process.

It provides suggestions for improving the process — which, the organizations reason, will also improve agency-client relationships.

The study contains both qualitative and quantitative components and quotes a number of media agency CEOs including Wavemaker’s Amanda Richman and Steve Williams of Essence. Respondents represent agencies with combined media billings of more than $55 billion.

A key flaw, the research found, is that clients are often unclear about what the are looking for from their media agency. And they tend to remain vague throughout the pitch process, even when pressed for details.

The study quotes Richman, commenting on the RFI stage of pitches: “Let’s just be more transparent with each other on what the challenges are and what is motivating the pitch so we can put our resources towards the best solution.”

The RFI stage, the study concludes, is an earlier “filtering stage” where clients often require expensive video presentations or details on master service agreements that are better left for a later stage in the process.

Pricing exercises are often perceived as overly complicated and counterproductive. Williams is quoted in the study as saying: “There is a particular lack of consistency, and clarity, around pricing exercises and templates, and how agencies are expected to complete them — so an industry standard would be a constructive move.”

And requests for proposals are often lengthy but full of questions that don’t provide agencies the best opportunity to highlight capabilities and expertise. “Advertisers should focus on the key questions that relate to their particular business challenges,” at the RFP stage, the report advises. “Fewer but more important questions would stop this stage from feeling generic and untailored to the advertiser’s needs.”

Chemistry sessions also frequently suffer from a lack of clarity, per the report. Clients should make a concerted effort at this stage “to ensure that agencies know exactly what is expected of them and be mindful of the resource required where they go beyond the basic ‘meet-and-greet’ session.”

Final presentations are a critical and high-stress part of the pitch process with the highest level of agency resource investment and senior management engagement, per the study. And respondents noted that clients often impose unreasonably tight deadlines at this point in the process. “In general, the one thing that would help make pitches better is more time to do good work,” Williams responded in the qualitative portion of the study.

“Pitches are a big drain on the resources of a media agency, which is often managing multiple reviews simultaneously,” said Tom Denford, North American CEO, ID Comms. “While agencies have gotten better in recent years at prioritizing the pitches they compete for and being more focused with their resources, more discipline on the advertiser side would enable agencies to be more strategic and do better work. A clearer pitch process enables all participating agencies to present their best talent, resources and ideas to the advertiser. This in turn creates more business value for the advertiser.”

Matt Kasindorf, senior vice president management services, 4A’s, added: “Advertisers need to think deeply about how they run their pitches as they look to get the very best out of the agency community…agencies need clarity on the advertiser’s goals and objectives if they are to identify the more appropriate solutions.”

Note: Another well-done article on the same topic at Campaign by Oliver McAteer

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