Limit the Heartburn – A Guide to Agency Selection

For many executives, the process for hiring a marketing firm seems to fit squarely between attending a seminar with no bathroom breaks and a root canal. And while, yes, we agree it should not be undertaken lightly (and truth be told, we’ve never met anyone who undertook it lightly,) you can avoid most of the pain by considering the following:

  1. RFP, PDQ. You wouldn’t buy a home without criteria, don’t start an Agency search without parameters. While it does not have to be a hard-and-fast shopping list, it should give the respondents a way to compete on a level playing field.
  2. Prequalify. What good is having all those contacts on LinkedIn or Outlook if you don’t use them? Call folks you trust for recommendations. Who have they liked working with, and why? Who would they avoid like the plague?
  3. Research. BTI (before the Internet,) researching firms was like throwing darts – you hoped you’d hit the right spot. Today, any agency worth its salt has a website, and it better be as good, or better, than the website and/or other materials you want them to develop for you.
  4. Size Matters – So does the client list. Search for conflicts of interest. Consider where your account will be in the pecking order. How much personalized service will you need? What kind of expertise? S-M-L-XL agency team? Be honest with yourself so you will not be disappointed.
  5. Experience Counts. Do these folks actually do what you think you need done? Consider they types of work each firm does – and how much. If you need a strategic plan but the firm does mostly events, or you need an aggressive PR program but the agency is more advertising-focused, odds are it won’t be a good fit.
  6. Contract. Ask to see a sample contract. How are hours broken out? (An army marches on its stomach but an Agency marches mostly on billable hours.) How does the agency report? How often? How does the Agency bill? Is there a terms sheet?
  7. Chemistry. In the end, with all things being equal (or at least equally considered), it’s going to come down to chemistry. Are you comfortable with the experience of proposed team? Confident in their abilities? Glad to be in the same room with them? 

There’s no guarantee you won’t need a TUMS™ along the way, but taking these seven criteria into consideration should limit the burn. To learn more about a.s.a.p.r.’s approach to integrated marketing and client relations please reach out: 443-944-9301, and ask for Robbie Tarpley Raffish.


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