When an advertiser is considering an agency change the search must include all of the necessary ingredients to ensure an effective, cost efficient, durable relationship.
We believe there are eleven essential steps and processes to include in a review. Drexler/Fajen Partners has conducted many reviews and we have also created protocols and templates to help clients arrive at the appropriate conclusions to make an informed decision. Here they are:
1. Client assessment: An analysis of a client’s unique needs and observations of past agency successes and failures can lead to a well-constructed, cost effective Scope of Work (SOW) for contending agencies. An outline of criteria against which contending agencies will be selected and judged should be established.
2. Request for Information (RFI): The RFI for contending agencies must be tailored to the client’s specific requirements. Agency locations, size, potentially competitive conflicts, capabilities, structure, resources, category experience, systems and compensation methods require specialized questions that must be asked.
3. Agency staffing and servicing: Not only an agency accomplishing their tasks on time, but how many and what kinds of people are involved in the servicing. Have agencies staffed with seasoned executives or have they over-juniorized? How are the tasks communicated internally by the agency, are the processes integrated, how many are automated, at what points are they reviewed by the client and how flexible is the agency to adjust when client plans change?
4. Agency capabilities and resources: In addition to all of the necessary capabilities to service the client, is the agency investing in tools and systems for future communication trends and developments? Does the agency have the ability to keep the client informed of changes in the world of communication, research, data and automation?
5. Agency economics: Are all elements of the agency costs divulged to the client? Is salary, overhead are profit revealed? How much overhead is charged to non-client functions? Are all charges to the client and agency income from client spending transparent? How do various costs compare with other agencies and the industry averages? Do they also reflect differences in agency costs by size, region of the country and level of experience?
6. Culture and Vision: Client/Agency teamwork is critical. Is the agency culture homogeneous with the client? Does the agency have a vision for their growth pertaining to successful client results? Has the agency lead worked with clients of a similar nature, understanding the needs and requirements that are unique?
7. Score-Sheets: Reviewing contending agency RFI responses, agency credentials and presentations can be a daunting task for a Client Review Team unfamiliar with the process. A relevant, organized score-card that captures and facilitates pertinent information is essential to reach informed opinions.
8. Client results: When a new agency is being reviewed can they demonstrate how other clients have increased business with specific recommendations under their watch? Can the agency provide potential recommendations for client return-on-investment? Can agency and client establish measurement benchmarks for successful results and communicate them succinctly in a decision making dashboard?
9. Contract: Tying the knot with a new agency is a complex procedure. A well constructed contract serves as a compact of mutual interest and transparency with review points of pre-determined benchmarks between the two parties moving forward.
10. Transition: Transferring work from one agency to another can sometimes cause important details to fall between the cracks. It is a time when creative and media assets can be misappropriated, amounting to a loss of thousands of dollars. Agency transitions must be precise, accurate, disciplined and unambiguous with proper guidelines and oversight.
11. Sustaining the relationship: With a new agency it is necessary to establish periodic barometers to insure the relationship is sustaining. To assure that both client and agency are moving forward cohesively and productively a two-way assessment report card, that grades the relationship on all important criteria, should be created and agreed to during the review.