March 5, 2024

5 insider strategies from agency matchmakers Robin and Steve Boehler

Michael Karamanoukian

Marketing Intern

Our hands are still cramping after taking all the notes from agency consultants and founders of Mercer Island Group, Robin and Steve Boehler. On today’s episode, these trusted matchmakers spill the tea on everything from how to lock up new biz to how your DEI philosophy impacts your pitch to what the big dogs can learn from small agencies (and vice versa).

2024: The year of reviews 

Robin and Steve tell us there’s a lot to look forward to for agencies and brands in 2024. With inflation coming down and the economy looking strong, businesses will be open to having new partners. That means it will be a huge year for reviews. Get your agency teams ready for new biz, as many companies look to roll out initiatives they had been holding onto in 2023 for 2024.

Awards are great, but agencies need more to grab Robin and Steve’s attention 

Awards aren’t the be-all and end-all for agencies. Robin and Steve tell us that, above all else, it’s the quality of work that gets your name out there. It’s cliche, but it’s true: going the extra mile and thinking outside the box goes a long way. 

Agencies shouldn’t only apply this mindset to client work – putting time and thought into their own brand will help them stand out. An agency must highlight its personality with its social media channels and provide actionable insights from thought leadership. Putting this extra muscle into your agency branding will make your shop memorable and keep people coming back for more content.

The magic smaller agencies bring to the pitch

Like a small town where everybody knows your name, a small agency team is unmatched because everyone knows each other’s strengths. Robin and Steve say that small agency teams “finish each other’s sentences.” They are more likely to be in sync and have great team chemistry.

Smaller agencies also have their leaders involved in every part of the business – focusing attention on every client no matter the size. Seeing great leadership and strong chemistry during a pitch makes potential clients feel as though the team is smarter and more strategic. 

What do big agencies have on small shops? They can crush a pitch. Small shops should embrace opportunities to sharpen their pitch capabilities whenever possible. And if a small shop loses the pitch, they should celebrate the opportunity they had to practice.

What a CMO should consider before hiring an agency 

During the pitch process, it’s easy to fall in love with work an agency has done for another client. Don’t let that be the deciding factor, however. It’s imperative to stop and consider whether the agency can solve your business needs. A great time to determine if the agency is right for your business is during the pitch process. Note whether or not the agency paid attention to your brief. Based on your guidelines, did the agency propose viable solutions to your problems, or did they come in with a “we know what’s best” attitude? Provide the agency feedback when needed and see if they listen. If they use that feedback to fuel their recommendations in the later stages of the pitch, that’s great! However, if they continue to miss the mark, you can probably do better.

What to bring for tissue sessions 

Tissue sessions are essentially rap sessions for agencies and brands. It’s a low-stakes meeting where the agency reviews the goals of a business and provides strategic recommendations – plus a few creative territories. Here, agencies vet their early thinking, and clients can offer feedback to tighten the pitch.

To get the most out of them, agencies must do enough strategy work upfront to provide sound suggestions in several territories. Understand the brand’s identity, its target audience, and competition. Make sure to bring two or three creative territories that will bring the strategy to life. Clients love to choose, rank, and evaluate multiple concepts. From there, an agency can take the client's creative temperature to get a better understanding of future directions.

Want more tips to boost your roster? You’re going to have to listen to the full episode. Drop your favorite takeaways on our social posts and be sure to leave a review wherever you listen to your podcasts. See you next month.👋


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