Client Search News @ AgencyFinder – July 23, 2008
This CLIENT SEARCH NEWS is for individuals registered @ agencyfinder.com. Forward to those in your company or others elsewhere involved in the advertising or public relations agency selection or review process.
1. It’s time to hire or challenge your marketing partner to do it better, faster, maybe cheaper!
2. Tell us about the time …
3. AgencyFinder launches first industry agency rating index.
4. AgencyFinder debuts service in UK
5. Frank commentary from a recent searcher
6. My God! They’re in our building!
IT’S TIME TO HIRE OR CHALLENGE YOUR MARKETING PARTNER TO DO IT BETTER, FASTER, MAYBE CHEAPER!
by Chuck Meyst, Chairman & CEO
We did a quick straw poll of recent clients, and with few exceptions, they all agreed they would be impressed and drawn to any pitching agency that made a formal presentation outlining how the client’s account could be handled better, faster and for less! I’m not suggesting anything clients haven’t told agencies before, and as consumers, most of us feel the same way.
For clients and agencies alike, it’s crunch time. Not that this economic downturn phenomena (alleged or real, as seen from your perspective) should cause clients and agencies to behave drastically different or in ways they didn’t before, but it makes measurements and “needle movement” all that more meaningful, as well as critical.
If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been experiencing a surge in client searches. 82 search registrants last month; more than double the same period last year. Some of that reflects our new operations in the UK and Europe, but the increase also reflects clients looking to get more of what they need from their marketing activities.
Clients are telling us, “We don’t need the softer-side of branding right now; we need sales!”
Adam Whittaker, CEO of our London office, summed up this attitude for agencies this way: “It’s common to hear agencies profess ‘It’s all about the people’ or ‘Our creativity speaks for itself’ and ‘We provide media neutral solutions to marketing problems.’” But Adam had this advice for agencies: “If you use any of the above to differentiate yourselves, then you are in for a rude awakening … you’re not any different from the next agency.”
Adam continued, “Agencies need compelling propositions as much as the next brand. Unless you can provide a ‘burr of singularity’ (copyright David Ogilvy, all rights acknowledged, please don’t sue me etc.) for your own agency then why would a client entrust you to do so for them?
“You need to provide clients with a reason to remember you, and what better reason than having a planning process that can convincingly prove your ability to provide better solutions that will make audiences react in the way clients want them to react.”
Adam and I share the same belief. When you’re involved in the search and selection of an additional, replacement or new marketing partner (i.e. ad agency, pr firm, digital agency, etc.), or evaluating the framework of an existing relationship, you should look for measurement and accountability. You and your agency need to strike a quid pro quo – you define in writing what’s realistically expected of them and their efforts; they present a written plan with strategy, benchmarks, spend-rates and expectations. You need to agree and then proceed.
It’s reasonable to expect your agency (candidate or incumbent) to share and illustrate their ”process” – tangible steps and actions that will move you from Step #`1 to Step #2 to Step #3 and beyond.
We’ve always referred to it as The Art & Science of Marketing Partnerships.
Putting art and science into practice
As search activity to find the perfect marketing partner continues to heat up, we’re seeing more industry articles suggesting ways to streamline the agency search and selection process. Our experience (over 8,500 searches and ten years) tells us that whether you’re doing it yourself or have third-party help, if you start a review with a handful of poor agency candidates, you’ll end up with no one, or at best, a bum partner.
A no-cost search managed through AgencyFinder, however, starts with over 5,000 agency candidates and a proven process for finding and meeting dozens of qualified prospects. This means even the most inexperienced client can almost fumble their way to the ideal agency. We’re able to help clients through the entire process, but our primary virtue is the identification and introduction of qualified, perfect agency candidates. Supplemental reading suggestions for the marketing-inclined
If you have time and interest in related topics, here’s something more. Some pundits have declared the advertising agency model dead. Obviously, pronouncements like that affect clients and agencies alike. For the most part, they’re discussing compensation issues.
On that, I refer you to Has Accounting Led us Astray, a recent white paper by our colleague Mike Carlton. It’s bound to get you thinking.
And one more – your firm may be interested in Interim Marketing Leadership – a piece on part-time C-level marketing expertise to organizations experiencing extended staff absences or lack of executive-level support.
I offer both as “food for thought!”
TELL US ABOUT THE TIME …
We’re asking you to share your most “outrageous” agency story for a piece we’re writing on the “Do’s and Don’ts” of pursuing new business. We’ve tried to cover everything we’ll need to know in a few quick questions, but if yours is particularly special (or in some cases painful), we may need to contact you directly by e-mail or phone to confirm a few facts.
Remember, we won’t identify whose stories are used in our piece unless given permission to do so by you, so please be candid and “brutally honest”.
The AgencyFinder Team
AGENCYFINDER LAUNCHES FIRST INDUSTRY AGENCY RATING INDEX.
Clients conducting an agency search have a new, sophisticated tool to better qualify prospects in the agency search and selection process. AgencyFinder, the marketing industry’s largest on line client/agency matchmaker, has announced its launch of the AgencyFinder Power Index™ (AFPI).
The index provides searchers (clients and search consultants) with an objective measure of every registered agency’s “readiness” for new business.
“Ensuring the best possible match between agencies and clients has taken another leap forward,” says Charles G. Meyst, Chairman of BPI. “One of our on-going goals continues to be to reduce the guesswork in the agency search process. We believe the most prepared agencies deserve the opportunity to land the right client. Our AFPI rating will communicate an agency’s responsiveness to information requests, the completeness of its on line profile and interest in working within the structure of the AgencyFinder new business process,” Meyst added.
Mathematical formula measures new business readiness
“For more than a decade, our objective methodology of pairing up marketers with service firms has allowed clients to compare prospective agencies on nearly 500 different characteristics without relying on brand names or reputations. AgencyFinder provides a valid and fair way to create a short list for a search where every choice is a winner,” Meyst explains. “But now, we’ve created another indicator for clients to consider.”
“The AFPI uses a proprietary mathematical formula that measures registered agencies on certain criteria within the AgencyFinder database. Clients have told us they do not have time to hunt down certain information, case studies, or determine fiscal responsibility in the search process,” says Meyst.
“The AFPI essentially rates each of our registered agencies on the completeness of their files, among other factors, which results in a rating. The higher the rating (a perfect score is 100), the more we can assure the client that the agency has provided thoroughly prepared and up-to-date information to search against. Since the AFPI is a real-time computation, anything the agency does to improve its record is reflected immediately.”
A power rating score also continuously reflects the agency’s historical record on invitation responsiveness, process compliance and fiscal responsibility.
Rankings vs. ratings
“There are a number of industry rankings that measure agencies’ capitalized billings, work force, or number of offices, but clients are telling us what matters more is whether a prospective agency has actual expertise, reliability and fiscal responsibility relative to their needs. There have been countless times a client will develop a preliminary list of prospective agencies, only to find that critical information is missing from an agency’s data file. They simply do not have time to launch an investigation to find missing case studies, essays or other pertinent information. “Now a client with a list of agency prospects can consider the AFPI rating as an indicator that the agency has provided enough information for the client to conduct a fair and comprehensive preliminary evaluation as part of their initial due diligence.”
“We want to make sure all of our agencies have an excellent chance of landing new business and are in good standing,” explains Meyst. “The AFPI algorithm reflects the completeness of the agency data file while not discriminating between large, mid-size and small agencies with regard to capitalized billings, or employee counts.
“It’s a matter of trust,” adds Meyst, an ad industry business development authority but seldom-mentioned degree-holder in mechanical engineering who developed the formula. “The AFPI allows clients and agencies to participate in a search process where each is confident that each party has passed muster with AgencyFinder standards.”
AGENCYFINDER DEBUTS SERVICE IN UK
by Adam Whittaker, CEO UK and Europe
Well, the UK & European launch of AgencyFinder.eu went smoothly and according to plan. We have enough agencies of every discipline and location to make pretty much any client search come up with a sensible number of qualified prospective partners.
We launched to clients on June 10th and we’re pleased to report our launch elicited twelve searches in the first ten days. Those searches include clients looking for an advertising agency, PR firm, branding consultancy, market research and an integrated agency (among others). The response to our launch brought home to us what we suspected: AgencyFinder will serve clients looking for agencies of ANY type, not just those normally associated with intermediaries.
Why has AgencyFinder successfully attracted such a diverse range of searches? To a large extent, it’s our marketing. We are pro actively reaching out to a database of over 35,000 marketing directors and agency principals across more than 12,000 organisations in the UK using email, direct and telephone channels. We have a team of thirteen account managers at RSW (AgencyFinder’s partner in the UK) whose activities keep this database current and four people (including both myself and Sam Reardon Smith) working full time with clients helping them find the perfect partners from within our database of agency subscribers.
The launch of AgencyFinder in the UK was announced this past week in the US marketing trades (click here to read the release). We’re expecting to see some increased search activity for trans-Atlantic business in the near future as a result. We are also using SEO and PPC with Yahoo and Google. As a result, we’re steadily moving up the rankings!
An important note for those of you that may be looking – you may not have read about us and our searches in the press – this is because we have not fully launched our media campaign yet. Apart from a small piece that recently appeared in PR Week in mid July (which they approached us to do – click here to read the story) you will not see anything until we announce our first completed assignments. This is a deliberate policy and in line with Agencyfinder’s mantra of 100% client confidentiality until the search has ended.
What clients want
I must say that given what we’ve been doing (and continue to do) since 1992 with RSW, being on the other side of the fence is a real eye opener. Clients really appreciate the help we give them and open up to us about what they want from an agency.
Because of this, we maintain a strict “Chinese Wall” from client to agency-side inside RSW and jealously guard any confidential or “need-to-know” information.
One of the things that really has come home to me is that clients are no longer discipline specific. They still have problems, identify a requirement for certain services and then want find the right partner to solve the problem. It matters not what the agency calls itself; advertising, integrated, media neutral, channel blind – clients don’t care.
What they care about is what you can do, the sectors you have experience in and the markets in which you have a demonstrable understanding.
This is one of the things clients tell us they like about Agencyfinder. Our initial search process (using 500 attributes to define an agency’s profile) cuts out those agencies that don’t do what the client needs to have done, don’t specialise in their field of interest or don’t know the client’s market.
With ten years’ experience in the US already behind us, it will be interesting to see how quickly the AgencyFinder system for conducting agency reviews catches on in the UK and throughout Europe. FRANK COMMENTARY FROM A RECENT SEARCHER
Like many smaller companies, we have grown to the point that we needed help marketing and advertising our brand. The initial thoughts about how great it would be to have professionals help us were quickly replaced with anxiety about selecting an agency.
After a brief search on the internet, I quickly came to the realization that it would be difficult to conduct a thorough search without help. We operate a residential real estate company in the mountains of North Carolina and we couldn’t afford to have our small marketing budget wasted. We needed a great value for our money! The following questions became apparent immediately: Do we need someone close to our location? Do we need someone who specializes in marketing for our industry? How do we know that the agency will be as good at servicing our account as they were at getting the business?
After a day or two of looking, I came across AgencyFinder. I was intrigued by the idea of an objective intermediary helping us with our search, but I was still skeptical that someone could make such a daunting task manageable. Once I spoke with the consultants in Glen Allen, and saw the results they sent me, I knew that I didn’t have to look any further. From that point, the process was relatively painless. The only bad part about the search was the fact we came up with 4 great agencies from which to choose.
Unfortunately, we could only hire one of them. In our line of our work we accept bids from multiple vendors on almost everything we do, but we had never, until we worked with AgencyFinder, had a situation in which we couldn’t go wrong with any of our choices. Now, almost two months into our agency relationship, we are getting great work that I would have never dreamed that we could afford.
Thank you so much, AgencyFinder!
Daniel J. Barr, Junior Partner
Barr Family Developers
MY GOD! THEY’RE IN OUR BUILDING!
by Kaille Padgett, Director Agency Relations
You never know where you’ll find a great agency. That’s what makes this true story all the more interesting.
On this occasion, back in late February, a snack food company in Rockville Center, NY registered and began their search process. Clients always get a candidates spreadsheet from us in the early stages, but that report doesn’t yet include the agency names. It does however show agency locations.
During a phone conversation with the client she remarked “I see there’s one agency right here in Rockville Centre!” I gave her the agency name and address and she squealed – “My God! They’re in our building!”
With little pause for breath, she did a quick cut & run, and now we’re waiting for confirmation of her hire decision. Talk about great matchmaking …
Charles G. Meyst, Chairman/CEO
Business Partnering International, Ltd.
Vantage Place, 4327 Cox Road
Glen Allen, Virginia 23060 USA