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How to Guide


How to find a marketing agency

How to find a marketing agency

Use this guide to find the agency that's right for you. 

1. Prepare all the necessary background information.

 - Prepare an outline brief with a clear indication of budget
 - Consider the type of agency required and draw up your checklist against which to judge
 - Approach trade bodies for guidance and advice. They’re there to help! Ones to consider are the DMA, IPA, ISBA, MCCA and PRCA.
 - Identify work for other clients which you rate highly.
 - Talk to colleagues in other companies about their agency experiences.
 - Do your research and employ a consultant if you need detailed knowledge.
 - Seek credentials from selected agencies that match the outline brief.
 - Evaluate the information against your criteria checklist.

2. Think of the response required and prepare a written brief accordingly.

 - Prepare a thorough but precise written brief for the competing agencies.
 - Make clear what’s required – strategic proposals, creative ideas or full creative pitch.
 - Be clear about the services you expect to use
 - Make the budget explict from the outset.
 - Identify and make clear all criteria on which the agencies’ presentations will be judged and give them time limit to present.

3. Consider the time necessary to respond to the brief. 

 - Make a firm timetable for the pitching and evaluation process and stick to it.
 - Allow sufficient time for agencies to have face-to-face meetings to discuss the brief and ask questions. Their interest is a good thing!
 - Allow time for the development of creative ideas between brief and presentation.

4. Invite up to three agencies to pitch.

 - Don’t be seduced into lengthening the list
 - Make competing agencies aware of the number of agencies on the pitch list
 - If there is a requirement for participating agencies to sign non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements it should be done at this point.

5. Give background market data, interpretation and clarification.

 - Be prepared to share, confidentially, market data and other relevant research.
 - Allow the same rules of access to all agencies pitching
 - Ensure there is a senior member of your company available to handle enquiries and meet requests.

6. Help the process by demonstrating commitment with some financial contribution.

 - Some financial contribution shows commitment and the seriousness of your intent.

7. Understand the roles of all involved on both sides and set up an objective evaluation system.

 - Ensure all decision makers have been fully briefed and are present at each stage.
 - Establish an objective evaluation system for assessing each pitch.
 - Ensure the agency presentation teams include people who will actually work on the business.

8. Insist on necessary commercial disciplines before an appointment is made.

 - Ensure all business details are discussed before an appointment is made. Negotiate terms and sign contractual obligations.

9. Decide and inform quickly and fairly.

 - Decide on the winning agency as soon as possible – it should take no more than a week.
 - Establish a proper procedure to notify the agencies of the decision taken and tell them all on the same day.
 - Immediately issue a press release to the trade press.

10. Implementation and relationship management.

 - Give the losing agencies the courtesy of a ‘lost order’ meeting.
 - Losing agencies must return all confidential material
 - Once an appointment is made, ensure that a contract between client and agency is actually negotiated, agreed and signed.
 - Welcome the winning agency with mutual induction meetings.
 - Agree realistic objectives for brand or corporate communications, put measures of effectiveness in place and report key metrics regularly at CEO/main board level.
 - Remember client-agency relationships need active management, review and reinvestment.

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