After 20 years in the
PR/marketing business I’ve come to the conclusion that finding the right
agency partnership for a business or brand is a lot like dating. You
start with some social/digital research, “stalking,” put out feelers,
and maybe get a few recommendations from colleagues and friends. The
process can be very frustrating and for anyone that has had to date in
this digital world – you know what I mean. But, once you find the right
agency, it can be a rewarding partnership that will hopefully last for
many years. Here are our top four tips that we think can help brands
looking to survive Agency/Client courting.
Scout Out Your Options and Be Informed.
Just like dating, there are so many options when looking for the right
agency. Begin your quest by doing your research which will save time for
you and the agencies. Get recommendations, ask for references and check
out the agency website. You can get a lot of information about agency
work, culture and expertise to narrow down your list of prospective
See Something You Like? The First Step is to Be Clear.
Go in knowing what you want out of the relationship. For an agency to
be successful, it needs to have a clear understanding of your goals.
What does success look like for the brand? What’s the budget? Too often
brands will not reveal their precise budget which can be quite
challenging and often hinder the process of getting a proposal that is
focused and achieves the objectives for the brand. It’s ok to ask for
some pie in the sky ideas but brand teams should always provide a base
It’s OK to Date Around but Be Fair.
Don’t reach out to agencies just to see what other ideas are out there
if you’re not seriously considering a switch. Agencies spend a lot of
time and money on researching and developing concepts for a new business
pitch; that is our “currency.” We’re happy to invest time and money if
the playing field is fair. A few other issues to keep in mind. Each
agency should have the same amount of time and information to complete
the proposal. Also, asking more than 3 agencies to pitch is a bit like
dating more than three people at a time – a little overkill.
If It Didn’t Work Out That’s OK but Be Honest.
After an agency has devoted time and money creating a proposal to
support your business, don’t “ghost” them. Even if they didn’t win your
business, it’s professional courtesy to call, let them know and explain
the thinking that went into your decision. This really does help the
agency grow and learn for the future.
Good luck with your search and we hope you’ll swipe right!