Six Agency Search Questions Clients Ask…How You Answer Will Determine Your Success!

February 25, 2010

These six questions consistently come up in most agency search RFI’s. Your answers to them play a critical role in the decision as to whether you move forward in the process or are eliminated at this early stage. Take the time now to develop considered points of view rather than a rushed “in the moment” response.

 

What are the exclusive or unique services and capabilities that give your agency a competitive advantage in the marketplace?

 While the actual wording may differ, the question is almost always included in most agency RFI’s. Clients want to know exactly what it is that makes your agency different. What value does your agency bring to the relationship and how will what you offer help them compete more effectively and win. It’s not about a laundry list of capabilities – as every agency claims to have every capability. My suggestion is that you take the time to ask yourselves not only what you do well, but also what it is about what you do that makes you measurably better than the competition. Remember that you cannot be all things to everyone.

Describe the top three trends in the industry as you see it and how is your agency leading and reacting to these trends?

 Clients want to know that the agency they select is a leader and not a follower. They want to make sure that it is at least constantly keeping abreast of current trends if not predicting what the next one will be. In addition, clients are interested in knowing how you are leveraging them to give your clients competitive advantage. Depending on the RFP and your type of agency, the question can vary from broader consumer trends to specific category or vertical developments. 

Why do you provide better thought leadership than your competitors? 

This is just another question aimed at helping the client determine whether your agency is a leader or a follower. This question probes areas like strategic thinking, use of technology, innovative media and communications planning and data analytics etc. Once again they are trying determine what your value proposition is and how do you keep current.

How do you help your clients manage their brand and the total consumer experience in the digital space?

The buzz surrounding brand and customer experience continues to grow exponentially. Lead by Forrester Research, there has recently been a plethora of articles on “customer engagement agencies”. In fact, Forrester was even planning to publish a wave focused on  “customer engagement agencies” in the first quarter of 2010, however I am led to believe that this has been put on hold due to a lack of agencies who meet the basic selection criteria. You can be certain that this question is going to become ubiquitous in the near future so I would suggest that your agency develops not only a point of view, but also a track record of delivering it on behalf of your clients.

How have you used social media to generate business results? How did you measure ROI?

I would be very surprised if your agency has not already had this question thrown at you. Currently this seems to be the question that is on the tip of every clients tongue. It’s probably one of the most difficult questions to answer. I am certain that there are more agencies than not who cannot truly answer this question based on their own experience. I recommend that if you fall into this category that you at least develop a POV and approach that you can share. This will demonstrate to the client that you have given it serious thought and have a strategic approach to answering the million-dollar question.

Explain how you test, measure and optimize results for your clients?

This question is top of mind for most if not every client out there. There has never been in the history of marketing and advertising, a stronger focus on effectiveness, tracking, measurement and ultimately results. ROI is the subject d’ jour with many clients even asking agencies for some type of guarantee or at minimum shared risk participation. Some of the larger companies have moved all of their agency compensation models to a pay for performance model. Take the time to document your philosophy, approach, process, tools and tracking capabilities.

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Forrester Research Identifies Significant Challenges For Integrated Agencies

September 23, 2009

Integrated Mktng

Integrated Marketing, 360 Degree or whatever you want to call it marketing, continues to be the topic de jour among agencies and marketers alike. Many agencies are clamoring to reposition themselves as “Fully Integrated and Media Neutral”, capable of delivering work across the full media spectrum. Forrester’s latest research suggests that most clients may not be ready for such an agency.

According to a recent survey, conducted by Forrester Research on behalf of Merkle, most marketers lack a holistic view of their customers and communicate with them in multiple silos. As a result, these marketers are unable to adopt a customer centric approach, supported by strategies focused on maximizing total customer value. A situation that is the antithesis of what most integrated agencies offer.

Organization and technology are the biggest barriers: Most marketers claim that they want to send relevant messages to customers and communicate with them in a way that improves the brand experience. More than half of the respondents reported the lack of a single owner of the customer experience, which resulted in silo’d, inconsistent approaches and misaligned goals within the organization. If such a situation exists internally, how could the marketer possibly engage effectively with an integrated agency?

Very few marketers use customer engagement as a primary factor in their communications: Only 11% of marketers said customer engagement was primary and 32% said it’s often a factor. For 20% of respondents, it is seldom or never a factor.

“We struggle to measure customer engagement. We don’t have a system to manage it, in part because nobody has a singular responsibility for managing it. Unfortunately, it’s just not a priority.” (Hi-tech company)

Only one-third employ a contact strategy:  Only 35% say that they have a contact strategy designed to deliver the right message through the right medium at the right time.

Measurement doesn’t drive budget allocation: Almost two-thirds of respondents (64%) continue to allocate budgets across marketing disciplines based on historical spending, and 56% do so simply based on planned activity. Why? –  because that’s what they do. Media mix modeling – which allows marketers to understand the incremental impact of specific media and activity – is used by less than one-third of the respondents.

Marketers are missing the point more than half the time: When assigning credit for a sale or transaction, more than half attribute the activity to the most recent touch point. If a prospect saw a TV commercial, received a direct mail piece, three emails and then searched for an item and bought it from their company, the entire credit for the sale would be allocated to their SEM efforts. Less than a third of marketers calculate fractional attribution across all activity.

All that being said, it would appear that clients, especially the larger clients are not structured in the optimum way to be able to easily engage with an integrated agency. Their internal structures tend to support the ongoing use of independent specialists focused on supporting each of the silos.

That’s probably why everyone has been chasing the Holy Grail of marketing for years now, and the chase will probably continue for years to come.

 

 

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