How to choose an agency: Meet & Greet (part 2)

Eenie You’re hiring an agency because you want results.

This is not about making your ads look prettier. This is about doing more business, smarter.

So, how do you choose the right partner?  Eenie Meanie Mienie Moe?

Well, if you read my earlier post you know I don’t think it should be an RFP.  But on the other extreme, it shouldn’t be just because your cousin works there either.

Following a simple process (simple to understand, but will take discipline and time to execute) will protect you from making an expensive mistake.

The phases of the process are:

  • Know what you want  (ask yourself questions)
  • Do your homework (ask the prospective agencies questions)
  • The meet and greet (get together and ask questions)

There’s only one step left.  But it’s probably the most important step of all.   At this stage, any of your finalists are most likely more than qualified to do the work.  That’s the easy part.  But are they the right fit for you, specifically?

Let’s assume that all three agencies did a good job on their presentation.  (If one bombed — eliminate them before this final step.) After the presentations, tell them you want to schedule an on-site visit.  (Or you can schedule their presentations there.)  Much like walking through someone’s house will give you an incredible amount of insight into their life and personality, you’ll find the same is true of agencies.

Take a tour.  Ask to meet everyone who would touch your account, from the front desk staffer to the accountant and everyone in between.  What does it feel like to be there?  What does the environment tell you?  Does it all feel authentic or are they putting out the good china because company is coming? There’s a fine line here. You want to be treated as though you’re special.  But, if you can’t sit on the sofa without a slip cushion — yikes!

Here’s the leap of faith.  After you have visited all of the finalist agencies on their home turf — you need to trust your gut.  Any of them would be more than competent or else they shouldn’t have gotten this far.  But that’s sort of like saying your prom date was okay.  You want (and deserve) WOW!  Who was most engaging?  Who seemed to "get you and your team" the most?  Who did you trust?  Who felt like they were blowing smoke up your skirt? Who felt genuine?

Who feels right.  Remember — every buying decision is based on emotions.  And this one is no different.  At a certain point in time, you have to close your eyes, trust your gut and leap off the cliff!

Voila — you have a new agency.  Congratulations to you both.

Of course — now the hard part begins.  Building and maintaining the relationship!


The rest of the How to Choose An Agency Series:

Flickr photo courtesy of PeeJ0e

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