The NMA have just sent me an £110 ‘invite’ to a half day conference to help me learn how to choose a digital agency. ‘The traditional divides…are coming down’ I am told, and the agencies themselves agree as they have received an increase ‘in strategic briefs’. All in all it seems, the client is getting less able and agencies are very clever.
As a life-long client – up until this year – I find this a bit patronising. Rather than rant I am going to give you tips, from a client rather than a media owner in partnership with an agency (yep, they are sponsored by a digital agency).
1. Get your internal selection team together
A mixed bag is needed here, it lends perspective and depth, look at no more than 3 core people with one ‘sponsor’ who will add weight to the process and – once appointed – the agency itself. Be mixed and varied in your selection, focus on opinion and projects delivered, and most of all don’t be afraid to choose someone random; someone very junior, someone from finance, a creative…you are after breadth
2. Choose and agency who has an opinion
Whether it’s right or wrong, at least you have a discussion. Discussions mean you have to focus and think more. In a time poor client space, this is the most valuable thing you can accrue. It keeps you on your toes, teaches you to listen and above all it means you learn
3. Choose someone you get on with
If you don’t like them, any discussion will be hampered by Ego and Self. This is important to remember post-pitch too; don’t be afraid to ask for people to be changed. The old relationship rule, beauty is only skin deep
4. Choose someone who compliments your drive
If you want to allocate budget and talk nothing but CTR’s and ROI then go for a big player. They will get you column inches and results as well as fine dining and good parties. If you want personal investment and service without boundaries, choose a smaller, hungry agency – maybe even a start up. Breadth is not an issue as this kind of agency will go from learn to expert in a matter of days
5. Add a structure
The above 4 points are where you should start, they are the things that make it happen and work. To bring them together – and to tick some formal / legal boxes – you need a structure. Have a calendar or events, book meeting rooms, create a selection criteria sheet for your selection team and schedule review meetings
6. Be in charge
It’s about you, your daily work and your reputation. You hold the casting vote, use it and be clear that you are in charge
There, I’ve just saved you £110 and the embarrassment of having to go an agency sponsored event about choosing an agency. All delivered without an annoyingly cheap goodie bag…