At last week’s Ad Age Small Agency Conference, I had the pleasure of joining industry vets Mark Figliulo and Lindsey Slaby to chat what shops like ours expect from an agency review. We talked must-haves, red flags, and everything in between. So, if you’re a brand leader considering an agency review, here are five things that nearly 300 small agency professionals agree you should consider.
1. Budget or bust
You know your budget, don’t hold it back. The more transparent you are, the better your future agency can show up for you. Agencies agree: No budget? No pitch. So share your budget freely and allow your agency to respond with something that aligns with your investment parameters. You wouldn’t hire an architect to build a house and not give them a budget to work with. Don’t do it to your agency partners either.
2. 10’s a crowd
The number of agencies you invite to the party says a lot about you. Do your homework, and narrow it down to your favorites. Agencies spend a lot of time and resources building websites and case studies for you. Take a look. If you like what we say online, you’ll probably like how we show up in person, too. If there are 10 agencies on your shortlist, it’s not short enough. Three or four agencies should give you enough variety to find the right partner.
3. Spec with purpose
If you require spec, have good reasoning behind the ask. Is it to understand the agency's creative abilities? Is it to witness how we translate strategy into consumer-facing messages? Is it to see how we would amplify creative through head-turning activations? Spec takes time and costs the agency money. So, if it’s required, know why and tell your prospective partners. If you don't need it, don't ask for it. Trust us, your agencies will thank you (and some may give it to you anyway).
4. Make yourself available
Emotionally and otherwise. Clients who don’t allow questions or meetings with prospective agencies aren’t really looking for a long-term partner. Don’t expect your agency to do good work if you can’t share data or be available for a lil Q&A. You’ve been working on your business for a long time, and we just met you. Fill them in on the stuff that’s going to make them successful.
5. Be yourself.
At the end of the day, agencies aren’t the only ones under review – we’re vetting you too. So, bring your best self forward. After all, this is a mutually beneficial relationship. We want to see how your team works together and if you're a good fit. Chemistry is critical. Be vulnerable and ask the same of your agency.
That’s it! If you follow the guidelines above, there’s a pretty good chance we’re going to say, “thank you, yes!” instead of, “thank you, next!” to your next opportunity. Speaking of which: Got a project that needs the wild minds at Curiosity? Reach me on our contact page – we may just want to throw our hats into the ring.