How To Conduct An Agency Review.

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I have conducted agency reviews for a number of great companies.

I have read that 80% of clients conduct their own agency reviews and don’t use a consultant.  Most agencies think that the process is flawed.  Most clients don’t get that because they aren’t pitching New Business all the time and they have never responded to an RFP. It’s Showtime.

So here is some advice on how to conduct an agency review or search. Continue reading

What Kind of Client are You?

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I was having an early morning coffee with a client the other day.  Today clients often have very early morning Starbucks because they have a lot to do with fewer resources to accomplish them.

He was sharing with me a story about one of his clients.  Yes clients have clients if they have channels of distribution and they want to sell their products. He described a meeting he recently had. He said the room was full of people who could not approve anything but everyone could veto everything. Been there?  I have.

Welcome to the New Normal.  Consensus decision making and often consensus indecision.

I had an early morning coffee with an agency friend the other day.  He shared his story of working on a large multinational client.  We all know their name and have all purchased their products. Because they are large they have numerous agencies for various specialties.  Too many for one client to handle or even get to know if you are a marketer that works at a company that rotates you every 15 to 18 months.   They had an ideation session that I am sure that every agency jumped to attention to attend. All present and accounted for Sir!  At the end of the day there are 50 plus ideas on the white board.

How did the client decide which one was best?  Let’s have a vote.  Very democratic but not exactly fact based decision making that was drilled into my brain.

Are marketers still stewards of their brands? What is a client’s top priority today?  Managing the brand or managing their careers?

I do know that many clients that I meet today are looking for their next job.  Riding the wave of their company, their title to the next big break. Many are not happy at work.

I hear from another type of client from time to time.  They reach out to me when their things go awry at work and they may feel a little threatened. They want to want to have a Starbucks with Hank Blank because they know I am very connected.  Then things settle down for them and all is good again at work.  No more networking needed.   When I reach out to them because I may have some opportunity to present to them many respond with silence.  Silence is golden but my eyes still see.

I was checking in with a client that I think is very compassionate about her people especially when she has to let them go because she is told to do so.  I can feel her heart.  She shared that everything was extremely hectic in her world.  Lots of trade shows, a new acquisition, a challenging CEO.  She wished me calm in my life.

As a consultant who has to create a job for himself each and every day there is little calm in my life but I somehow offered the promise of that island. I wish I was there.

I had a chance to be a client once.  When I was 30 I was offered a job as the VP of Marketing for a major QSR chain in Canada. I agonized over it. I did a Robert Frost on it but I didn’t take it.  Was I wrong?  What do I know?  I am just writing this blog and watching the way the wind blows. In the end I know we are all clients.

You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter: @hankblank

Like Blank and Associates on Facebook

Watch a Video on Why It’s Time to Change the RFP Process.

If you are a client with children you might enjoy this article on Graduation Time.

Should Marketers Conduct their Own Agency Searches?

Peeling the Onion of Agency New Business.

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I am lucky to have a unique perspective about New Business as I began my career working on New Business at major agencies in Canada and the U.S. I have also conducted agency reviews for a number of companies including Jenny Craig, Jacuzzi, and Raley’s Supermarkets.  I have seen countless presentations and see what clients react to favorably.

I have never been in a review where they clients didn’t welcome the pitching agencies perspectives and observations on the client’s business.

No matter what the brief says, if you talk about the client’s business you never get marked down.

No client ever hired me to do a review for them that didn’t have pain and need new answers.

But today Peeling the Onion of New Business takes more effort but then again what doesn’t take more effort in the New Normal.

Some Agencies sometimes think it would be premature if they talked about a client’s business without a full briefing and lots of time but New Business is about taking chances and being nimble.

Clients encounter unexpected challenges all the time from competitive threats and economic changes and they have to react quickly to solve these incoming missiles without much information or data.

To win New Business today agencies have to peel the onion to the core.  That is what many agencies don’t get and maybe some aren’t willing to do.

When you see pitches from a number of agencies during a review they often arrive at the same observations.  This creates a sea of sameness in their observations.  That is because they only peeled a layer or two.

You see it is often not very difficult to understand the problems a prospective client has.  Being outspent, the fact that all the advertising in the category is the same, being middled or whatever.

The problem is that these observations are nothing more than what the client already knows.

The agencies that win more New Business than other agencies peel the onion to the core.  They go deeper.  They work harder.  Their observations are more insightful and unique.  They aren’t afraid to take chances and most clients give them credit for that.

The best demonstration of peeling the onion is a War Room.  This is a conference room or an area at the agency that is literally covered from floor to ceiling with competitive advertising, screen captures, store check comments, screen captures of videos the agency shot, location photos etc.  It is akin to an Infographic of the current situation.

It is like a magnet.  All clients walk to the area or the wall and check it out.  It stimulates lots of dialogue and interaction which builds chemistry.  It demonstrates sweat equity and hard work wins business,

Talking about a client’s business creates more dialogue which leads to chemistry connections.  It also demonstrates smarts if the observations are insightful and sweat equity.  Those are the three key qualities to win New Business. Chemistry, Smarts and Sweat Equity.

Peeling onions at the start often makes you cry but if you stick with the process you invariably get rewarded.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

Watch a video on the New Agency Model.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbtT_agnk6w&list=UUEigDTyDiFGXVfyg7sRErOg&index=2&feature=plcp

How Many Agencies are Submitting?

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I think I have a unique perspective on New Business Development as I have been a new business hunter and have conducted agency searches for companies such as Jenny Craig, Raley’s Supermarkets and  Jacuzzi North America.

When I conduct a review many agencies immediately ask me “How Many Agencies Are Submitting?”

When I say it doesn’t matter they don’t believe me.  This is what I have seen from the other side.

The number of agencies on the long list doesn’t really matter because all agencies aren’t created equally.

You see agencies set the table and first impressions count.

If I look at their submission and say “Wow I couldn’t do that.” I know they will go far.  If I look at their submission and think my daughter submitted a better presentation in college I know their presentation will be quickly dismissed.

When one agency sends their RFP response in a customized box or container that is cleverly designed specifically for this client and another agency sends in a standard bound response, it is not difficult to see who has the advantage and increased their odds of being selected to go to the next round.

If one agency submits a superficial assessment of the client’s web presence and another agency a thorough analysis the choice is clear.

If one agency submits a brand video that they think summarizes the essence of the brand and another agency submits no perspectives on the client’s business the choice is clear.

If one creates a dedicated micro site as part of their submission and the other agencies don’t then the choice is clear.

What also surprises me almost in every review is the agencies that I perceive have the most resources often send a response that is so under resourced that it I am almost embarrassed for them. I am so disappointed.  They may have just been going through motions which they perceive has a limited downside.  They are wrong.  They have made a negative impression among a number of marketers and consultant that does not create positive word of mouth in the future.

The amount of effort that an agency takes in preparing their presentation is very easy to see when compared to agencies whose philosophy is let’s just send them something and see what happens.  Nothing will happen with that approach.  It is an old adage but cream does really rise to the top.

I have seen that it really doesn’t matter how many agencies are on the long list or what order you present in.

You see an agency review is a major milestone in the life of a brand and the career experience of the clients involved.  They may never do another one or another one for years.  It is a special occasion.  It is not an everyday process but a special occasion.  If you treat your submission like that you will beat the odds.  If you treat New Business like advertising you will fade away.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank

Connect on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

Watch his video on When Is It Time to Fire to Agency.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=py3DOk3meUY&list=UUEigDTyDiFGXVfyg7sRErOg&index=1&feature=plcp