A major and complex issue for marketers when looking for new agencies, or going to market with a tender, is concerns over conflict of interest. That is, not wanting to select an agency that already has a client that is a competitor. But what constitutes a competitive conflict will vary from advertisers to advertiser and category to category. It will also increasingly vary as the relationships between advertisers and their agencies evolve. Some categories are incredibly broad in what constitutes a conflict, such as financial services or alcoholic beverages, and therefore can quickly limit the choice of agencies without conflicts.
For more than a decade TrinityP3 has been collecting information on agencies using our online Agency Register. It provides TrinityP3 with a single source of data on the market place and is what we use when providing our clients with a market review as part of the tender process to select new agencies. But the TrinityP3 consultants, who regularly meet with these agencies to verify and update the information on the Agency Register were reporting that many of the agencies on the register were too specialist or too small to be under consideration in the larger Agency Of Record tenders we are often commissioned to manage.
In a recent discussion on a creative pitch, the procurement team informed me that they needed to go to open tender as this was the mandated approach for the organisation. I pointed out the short coming of the open tender approach for selecting agencies and provided them this link to this article I had written previously.
But more convincing than all of the reasons not to run an open tender was demonstrating to them the breadth and depth of information we have on thousands of agencies of many different types in the TrinityP3 Agency Register.
When reviewing their agencies, many advertisers ask if they should include the incumbent in the pitch process? They usually express concern that if they do not then the incumbent will “drop the ball” on the account and that perhaps by including the incumbent in the process they can keep them in the process until the end and ensure their full focus and efforts throughout the process.
Size, in agencies, often plays a central role in positioning, and in sense of identity – not just brand identity, but literally the sense of identity felt by the staff. I can only assume that size has been used so much because agencies find it hard to differentiate in other ways – and mind you, I don’t necessarily blame them. It’s damn hard to truly differentiate or achieve genuinely rock-solid positioning for an agency brand.