Interactive Agency selection is likely one of the most important decisions you make as a marketer yet in many companies it’s handled under the same procurement process as buying traditional media.
In their 2007 report, How To Hire The Right Interactive Agency, Forrester advises potential clients:
The RFP process is a ritual steeped in traditional advertising relationships, and it has remained largely unchanged over the past 50 years. However, this traditional process just doesn’t cut it for interactive work – and as a result, prospective clients often end up making the wrong agency choice.
In speaking with one of our pharma clients, she outlined her agency selection process for me (Does this sound familiar to you?):
- Contact procurement for a list of approved partners
- Call colleagues in marketing for referrals
- Internet research to review recent award winners, agency profiles and check out websites
- Brief procurement on the goals, objectives and mandatory elements of the RFP
- Procurement to write up and send RFP to list of agencies
- Bidders get 2 weeks to respond to the RFP
- Team reviews the responses and rank the agencies using a score card. The agency with the highest scores will become finalists. Finalists come in and pitch; the best presentation will be selected to move forward with contracting.
This is probably standard procedure in many organizations. BUT there is one step (and probably the most important) missing – How is the agency to work with? The article, What Matters Most When Selecting an Agency, outlines how to better evaluate agency partners as your RFP process moves forward. It sums up the importance of considering the “intuitive” things that clients should consider when selecting a partner. It’s a year old, but the key messages remain relevant today.
In this article, Avi Dan tells marketers to focus on the softer elements:
- Don’t hire an agency. Hire a culture
- Talent rules
- Set expectations
- Decide who are the deciders
- Avoid a cast of thousands
- Don’t use the RFP to collect data
- Don’t restrict your search
- Don’t choose by brand name alone
- Don’t choose by price alone
- Have the right perspective