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What you need to consider when searching for the perfect agency

perfect-agency

This post is by Kylie Ridler-Dutton, Marketing Management Consultant at TrinityP3. Kylie is a discipline neutral specialist with consulting and implementation experience spanning across retail, alcohol, utilities and telecommunications.

TrinityP3 have a global register of agencies spanning across disciplines from Advertising, PR, and Design right through to direct, digital, social, and media.

It has allowed us to work with clients all over the globe in countries as far as Afghanistan to Japan, Indonesia and of course right here on our doorstep in Australia. All the briefs to TrinityP3 come with their own unique requirements that we need to consider in conducting our agency search. Our consultants are educated in cultural requirements and nuances to support our clients sometimes not familiar with the local idiosyncrasies.

Different countries have different laws to consider such as illegal use of media to unique government compliances, which a successful agency needs to be well accredited to adhere to. A finance client needs to ensure governance expertise and pharmaceutical categories need an agency who understands legal compliance for advertisers.

The importance of a brief, like any agency project, needs to be reviewed by us before we set out on a search to ensure we attract the right capabilities and to ensure we know what success looks like for both parties.

What are some of the considerations when making the list of recommended agencies and why?

Size

The size of an agency depends on how many of its services you require and it also can heavily dictate the culture of the agency. A small or ‘boutique agency’, will have less clients and offer more senior level staff to be hands on.

A large agency will no doubt have the manpower to do cost effective and quick turn around production work for example. Not that they cannot offer great client service however it may include more hands touching the account rather than a key contact, which may be harder to manage for a small client team.

We often get clients highlighting it as a key requirement that their agency is known for a very high level of collaboration with the team, meaning they would be a tier one client for the agency.

Capability

A lot of briefs we receive are for a one stop shop, the capability to be able to offer an end to end service within the agency, such as the strategy, the production and also the media planning and buying.

Some clients will require very specialised services or category experience. Especially some of our global requests, we have needed to consider if an agency has worked in delicate political situations or with cultural considerations and multiple dialects. Locally clients tend to require category experience that will offer existing insights and valuable experience.

Culture

This is often overlooked, however it is so important to ensure the agency has similar values to the client’s business. Is there a high level of personal service required? Is the key account person a good fit for the client considering most of every week will be spent working with this person. Do they challenge the client with their thinking and is this something the client is comfortable with, being challenged by their thinking? Is the agency sustainability minded, fitting with the business ethos?

Sometimes our clients request an agency that shares aligned values and who would not consider working with other clients who indirectly challenge their values. An example of this we have come across, a non for profit client in the healthcare sector could not have an agency who worked on a business that promoted unhealthy food or alcohol products.

Location

We have had many briefs that require a greater reach where the client business operates in multiple cities. This may require only knowledge of the region or a more hands-on capability with teams based in the target areas on the ground.

We still find a level of hesitance with some clients to work with an agency not in their capital city, however we have also had many successful relationships that operate in a different city.

Client budget

The budget is something that clients are sometimes hesitant to supply in a brief however it is crucial to the right agency fit. It is much more productive to be up front with the potential work the agency will be required to do and the budget will give a good indication of the size of the work and how they will assign the right sized team to produce the work needed. Some clients are happy to pay a premium whereas others need very straight forward adaption work at a lower cost.

Category Experience

Generally clients request an agency with previous category experience however with our knowledge of agencies we sometimes will recommend options the client has not thought of which we call our ‘wild card’ as we have witnessed on other projects other insights the agency has brought to the mix or we know they have made a new hire that will be of benefit to the client needs via our agency register.

Clash Management

There are obvious direct competition conflicts, however sometimes a similar category can add intellectual benefit that won’t require the client to spend as much time educating their agency. TrinityP3 discuss at initial brief the various options to consider at the long list review stage to ensure no lost opportunity with potential agency options.

Due Diligence

It is important to not only align your pitch panel on the brief for an agency search, but to ensure everyone involved has had the opportunity to give their opinion on any past agency experience they may have had, good or bad.

If there is a Procurement representative they may have had past contracting issues with a business or legal issues to be avoided. TrinityP3 can evaluate the risk or opportunity given the current market research we conduct using our proprietary databases and consultant’s industry knowledge.

Agency Roster

A lot of our work requires TrinityP3 to audit the current supplier roster to uncover potential efficiencies within an existing roster. We have uncovered multiple agency rosters duplicating services and capabilities eating into the marketing budget.

Often this is due to the business units internally working in silos with no governance to avoid double ups. Mainly attributed to not taking the time to understand the credentials of their rostered agencies.

At the outset of a pitch we can review the current roster to ensure modelling can highlight efficient roster management and make recommendations based on these findings.

What to consider when searching for an agency

Define the business needs.

Get internal alignment up front.

Audit the current state of play.

Review the scope of work.

TrinityP3 can help you here with:

  • defined processes that are customised for every client
  • benchmarking costs and develop scopes of work for financial review
  • stakeholder management experience
  • industry register of agencies across all disciplines globally
  • extremely satisfied clients and agencies (even when they are not successful)

TrinityP3’s comprehensive Search & Selection process provides extensive market knowledge, tightly defined process and detailed evaluation and assessment. Find out more

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Kylie is a discipline neutral specialist with consulting and implementation experience spanning across retail, alcohol, utilities and telecommunications to name a few. Kylie has worked in various Agencies in both Melbourne and Sydney as a Client Services Director managing the development and implementation of a wide range of global brands over the past 18 years.

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