3 questions for agency search and selection expert – Anita Zanesco

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This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3. With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.

As TrinityP3 continues to grow, so does the team of professionals within the company and so does the depth of experience and expertise. Therefore I want to take this opportunity to introduce some of the core team members and their expertise, before having them answer three questions on what they do being:

  1. What are the challenges facing marketers today in their area of expertise?
  2. How does TrinityP3 assist marketers in this area?
  3. What advice would they give to any marketer facing these challenges?

TrinityP3 Senior Consultant Anita Zanesco. When you talk with Anita, it is clear she is a person with high EQ. (Emotional Quotient), essential in her career as a world class account lead and a successful personal trainer. But at TrinityP3 she applies this with great success to managing agency search and selection projects for our clients.

Search and selection has become increasingly more complex, with marketers requiring an increasing array of capabilities from their agencies and the choice of agencies increasingly wider and more confusing in response. It means that many of the traditional approaches for selecting agencies and suppliers are no longer as effective or relevant.

TrinityP3 has developed and applied a range of selection processes including “A pitch in a day“, “Strategic Workshops” and “Composite pitches“, but as Anita will tell you, more than the process, it is the chemistry and alignment of values is an important consideration in choosing a strategic partner.

Q1: What are the biggest challenges in selecting a new agency?

There are many challenges facing marketers when they have to select a new agency.  The first of these is people.  Finding the right people and the right agency to work with the marketer in partnership.

Cultural compatibility is one of those factors that can actually make or break a relationship and I think the key challenge for marketers in finding the right people is actually knowing where to start.

And marketers have got several options when it comes to selecting a new agency.  They can go with someone they know, their next door neighbour might work at an agency.  They can go with someone who knows someone at an agency.  They can go with who’s hot, who’s number one at the moment.  It seems to be working for everyone else, I’m sure it’ll work for them.

Or they can then start to be more robust and choose to run a pitch themselves or hire a third party such as TrinityP3 to manage that process for them.

There are varying degrees of risks associated at all those options for obvious reasons. Undeniably, that final option of hiring a third party should represent the least amount of risk and certainly give you the reassurance of the experience and the market knowledge and having someone who has done it many times before do it for you.

Q2: How can TrinityP3 help marketer achieve this?

We can assist in many ways, it’s one of the great things about TrinityP3, is the flexibility.  We don’t have set services for all clients.  We can literally take a client brief and tailor something specifically to your needs.

Very broadly, there are three types of services we offer in search and selection.

The first of these is an industry search and that’s simply where we take a client brief and within ten days you will have a complete, comprehensive report of the marketplace and up to twelve potential partners that could be right for you.  So that’s the industry search.

The mid-sized kind of option if you like, is the pitch management pack and that’s where a marketer does want to run the pitch themselves but doesn’t quite know where to start and doesn’t quite have all the tools.  As a consultant, we come in, we work with the marketer to develop a process and a timeline in order to actually see that pitch through.

The third service that we offer is the full search and selection.  This if you like, is the burger with the lot including beetroot.  Everything.  We come in, we take the brief and then we do everything from the industry search, right through to helping you get those contracts signed.

It’s a six stage process.  It starts with the industry review, it moves into a credentials brief, written credentials documents, chemistry sessions, strategic workshop, creative presentations and a complete financial analysis with written reports at every stage. Perfect for internal stakeholder management.

Q3: What advice would you give marketers about to undertake a pitch?

The first piece of advice I would give to any marketer about to undertake a pitch, is to actually ask themselves a question.  Do they need to pitch at all?

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side and I think making sure that the existing relationship isn’t able to be repaired is essential before they embark on that quite emotional and financial journey of trying to find a new partner.

That aside, if a relationship is completely in tatters and a pitch is the only solution, I have seven pieces of advice.

One, research.  Research the market as much as you can. Use contacts, use everyone you know to actually get a very clear picture of who’s who.

Beware the beauty parade.

Beware the number one agency and the agency who’s hot at the moment.  They may not be hot next year and they may not be right for you.

Chemistry.  Test chemistry wherever you can through the entire process and make sure it’s with the actual team that will be working with you on a day to day basis.  If time permits, try and run a half to a full day workshop with the agency to see them on their feet and interacting with you.

Creative compatibility and creative alignment can be tested throughout the entire process. Make sure that what you think is awesome, they also think is awesome.

Engaging a third party in financial negotiations helps to keep it very objective, keeps emotions out of it and makes everyone feel they’re getting value for money.  Tapping into the knowledge of a financial expert who understands what’s happening in the industry and has benchmarks, will actually help you receive a better deal in the long run and both parties will feel it’s win, win.

The final piece of advice I can give to marketers who are about to undertake a pitch, is to have fun.  At the end of the day, you’re working in the creative industries so that particular part of your job should actually be inspiring, motivating and enjoyable at the best of times.  Remembering that throughout the pitch process will surely lead to a partner for the long term.

To read more of Anita’s insights and knowledge on agency search & selection and more, check out her posts on the TrinityP3 blog here.

Video production by Phil Rich – 2 Feet Films

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About Darren Woolley

Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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