Do-It-Yourself Marketing Agency Search, Selection and Award

A Do-It-Yourself Adventure

The Do-It-Yourself Marketing Agency SearchSmall-to-medium businesses need professional marketing assistance but find it difficult to afford traditional ad agency search consultants. Here’s our free 5-part series for those who want to “do-it-yourself!” (sub-set instructions to follow)

It’s not quite as simple as a pad and pen, but it is a manageable process if you follow the suggested path and procedures and keep notes. We also have materials and a platform that will help and guide you. Now to get started!


  • Identify Corporate Internal Participants

    1. Select lead contact (ideally C-Suite) such as CMO with authority and knowledge

    2. Decide if Procurement will play a role and if so what authority and reportability

    3. Identify others to play roles throughout the process – for research, evaluation, etc.

    4. Identify at onset decision-maker individual and/or decision-maker process

  • Specify Agency Requirements

    1. When there’s an incumbent, list their attributes and features, then those to repeat, then those to discard

    2. Select from menus of vertical marketing experience, services offered, size (employee count and capitalized billings), age, location, creative styles, awards, others

    3. Try to specify mandatories and optionals, show preferences in descending order if possible

    4. Desire for single location or network (domestic or International) and where

    5. Using Myers-Briggs or others, identify desired agency “personality”

  • Notify Incumbent (Conditional)

    1. Your current relationship will help determine if an advance notice advised

    2. Has the relationship been deteriorating – the fact may be no surprise, even a relief

    3. If a surprise, whether consciously or subconsciously, the agency’s work takes a downturn. Fear of loss knocks them off their cutting edge; they’re less inclined to bring those big out-of-the-box ideas, or at worst, they’re not inclined to present anything that would benefit your new agency relationship.


  • Search for qualified candidates

1. Use your agency requirements list from week one for search basis

2. Ask colleagues for references

3. Ask media reps for references

4. Play the “Look for agencies at Google” game

5. Explore agencies at Directories (they use same premise as Google – who pays most gets listed at the top)

6. Explore the few on-line agency search consultants such as,

7. Collect data on agencies you found and prepare to enter that on next spreadsheet

  • Create Evaluation Spreadsheet

1. Column 1 – agency name

2. Column 2 – nearest city

3. Column 3 – agency size (employee count)

4. Column 4 – agency type (digital, PR, integrated, advertising, etc.)

5. Column 5 – website URL

6. Column 6 – website score (1-5)

7. Column 7 – work sample score (1-5)

8. Column 8 – attributes/features score (1-5)

9. Column 9 – overall score (sum of 6-8)

  • Prepare Request-for-Dialogue Invitations

1. Agencies hate RFP’s (notoriously so)

2. Most clients have difficulty writing meaningful RFP’s

3. Better to prepare a Request for Dialogue – conversation platform

4. Prepare discussion points for initial agency conversations

5. An open conversation with an ask/answer format is best

6. See Sample RFD here


  • Deliver Invitations – method, follow, confirm1. Delivery options – email, text, fax, USPS mail, FedEx2. Request Delivery Receipt, Read Receipt, take advantage of each “proof of delivery”3. Follow using individual emails, phone calls – talk or leave message

    4. Email no longer dependable option – too much spoofing or bogus delivery

    5. Don’t assume all have received, seen, read & comprehend opportunity

    6. Continue seeking delivery confirmations, solicit declines if that’s the case

  • Schedule/hold initial due diligence interviews

1. Using your favorite software – build a grid to plan and schedule due-diligence calls

2. Agencies have been told to send emails to schedule interview calls

3. Respond and schedule those calls

4. Just prior to actual calls, study agency materials again

5. Calls are for agency to debrief you and decide if to compete

6. Share enough  of your assignment so they understand

7. If you sense “no fit” tell them gently then

  • Invite interested agencies to send sample kit1. At call conclusion, explain that “if they wish to contend”, agency should send “kit” with evidence why your agency is perfect fit2. Any deliveries acceptable – email w/attachments, mail or expedited carriers3. Avoid pitch specifics or solutions since premature (lacking client data)

    4. Explain next cut comes after review of agency kits


  • Review submitted materials/cut for visits or ZOOM

1. Open and display each agency submissions – place labels on all to identify agency ownership

2. Look for supportive evidence of suitability – remember they heard your requirements

3. See that all those at client who will have a “say” or vote review the materials

4. Vote to determine which agencies come forward and those that get dropped

5.  Notify both groups; for those you will visit or Zoom, define visit steps

  • Hold agency site visits or ZOOM calls

1. You are there for an agency tour; to see, to learn, to evaluate

2. Judge their environment, their people, their work

3. Judge the “chemistry” – do you see a long-term relationship?

4. Had they prepared with specifics?

  • Decide On/Identify finalists
  1. Following all visits, make selection of finalists for HQ visits

2. Notify both groups with polite advisories

3. Provide finalists with instructions and assignment


  • Conduct final presentations
  1. Search committee distributes “finals” assignment to agencies
  2. Develop and distribute evaluation sheets to committee
  3. Schedule presentations, allow for adequate Q&A
  4. Determine presentation technology needs, furnish accordingly
  5. Require all committee members to be present and stay to finish
  6. Conduct agency presentations
  7. Collect and score evaluations
  8. Agree on winning agency
  • Notify Winning Agency
  1. Notify and confirm acceptance by winning agency
  2. Notify runner-up agencies but thank profusely
  3. Be willing to explain decision to runners-up
  • Award business. legal contracts, etc.
  1. Involve Legal, Procurement, HR
  2. Consummate with winning agency
  • Selection announcement
  1. Notify employees
  2. Prepare and distribute award to press
  • Congratulate Yourself!!!

It’s a sensible, logical, linear process that invariably leads to a great final selection and great agency partner!

Note that even though the process is straight-forward it is still rather involved. And much more than just inviting 4-5 agencies “in” for interviews!

For your “free” Version, begin here!


Search Statistics

Total Searches: 11519
Searches This Month: 3
Searches This Year: 9