A lot of advertising nowadays are highly ineffective. This is sometimes the result of clients changing ad agencies too frequently and too on. If we can encourage you to continue your existing agency relationship, we may help improve the level of your advertising a tiny bit and eliminate some of the frustrations you’re about to endure.
If you still decide to make a change, we’ve identified some of the important questions you should consider as you begin the process.
HOW BADLY DO YOU REALLY WANT TO MAKE A CHANGE?
Changing agencies often results in a significant waste of your most valuable resources: time, money and the ability to focus on the right issues.
Seriously considering the possibility of a new agency is:
Done right, reviewing and selecting a new agency can take months. Done wrong, however long it takes, will have been a wasted effort.
– screen at least a dozen agencies,
– develop a preliminary list of prospects,
– prepare and conduct orientation meetings with each,
– arrange for a visit to your company and with your colleagues,
– attend their presentations,
– deal with the press.
And that’s just the beginning. After the new agency’s selected and the contract’s signed, you’ll need time to bring them up to speed so they can develop new advertising.
The cost of conducting a review will affect everything from your travel and entertainment budget to your miscellaneous expenses. You’ll also need to produce the new agency’s work, another significant expense. One caveat: Your new advertising had better be good; you’ll have paid for it at least twice.
Selecting an agency is nearly a full-time job, and you have one of those already. In addition, a proper review will require other key executives in your company to make time available for briefings, interviews, and presentations, not to mention making or reviewing the final selection.
Too often the decision to conduct an agency review results from factors having little or nothing to do with the company’s advertising, or the state of its agency relationship. Advertising’s visibility and skyrocketing costs invite decisions based on ego rather than fact, and subjectivity rather than careful analysis. If selected and hired for the wrong reasons, a new agency and its advertising can easily do more harm than good to your market position.
If you still believe that changing agencies is the right decision, here are some questions to consider as you begin your search.
WHAT WENT WRONG WITH YOUR LAST AGENCY LAST RELATIONSHIP?
Learn from experience. In all probability, both you and your current agency contributed to the situation you’ve decided to change. What could you have done differently and better? What mistakes were made that, with hindsight, can be avoided in the future? If you’re not including your present agency in the review, consider asking them to evaluate you as a client. You’ll likely never get a more honest assessment from anyone who knows you as well.
Ask any agency “What can you do for me?” and the answer is sure to be “Whatever you want.” As it turns out, with current technology and the abundance of freelance talent, this can actually be true. But agency flexibility comes at a price, suggesting you determine your company’s real needs before you begin discussions with agencies.
Do you want your agency to handle media planning? Placement? Provide you with market intelligence, or rely on what you give them? Work with your sales force, distributors, or dealers? Provide services worldwide, nationally, locally? Just do advertising, or take on promotional materials, collateral and PR? How about direct marketing and your web site?
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
Once into the relationship how will you determine whether it’s successful? An agency can work toward almost any objective, from increasing average monthly sales to winning creative awards. If you don’t let your agency know how you intend to measure success, the chances
are only air they’ll guess correctly. What you need your agency to do will obviously help determine your criteria. Be objective, set goals that are ambitious but possible, and make sure your prospective agencies understand them.
HOW WILL YOU EVALUATE THE AGENCY’S WORK?
This may well be different from how you’ll measure success. You and your agency may put brilliant advertising into the marketplace only to see sales not respond for reasons you couldn’t foresee or control. Blaming the agency in this instance is unfair, and likely to put you back in the business of looking for another one.
And there’s evaluating the relationship itself. The time, money and effort spent hiring a new agency argues for keeping the relation in good health for as long as possible. Beyond whatever measurable goals you set for the advertising and its performance, how will you continue to believe your new agency was the right choice?
WHAT ABOUT MONEY?
BUDGET Share with prospective agencies your marketing and advertising budgets, including how they are set and whether they are flexible.
How do you expect to compensate your new agency for their work? Making your thoughts or requirements known at the beginning of the review process can save you much grief at the end of it. What compensation, if any, will you provide to agencies involved in the last rounds of the selection process?
All the work an agency puts into pitching your business belongs to you, if the agency is compensated by you. While no agency reasonably expects all its ‘, Itch expenses to be covered, simple fairness suggests you at least make a dent, especially if you’re asking for “spec work” – advertising created expressly for you.