Agency Searches: It’s about trust. How do you know?

Kari Bretschger

May 21, 2015

Times have changed in our agency world. Advertising, Public Relations and Marketing Services agency engagements are revolving more frequently. And while most who are in the business of connecting agencies and clients have a pretty good way to decipher who fits whom, at the end of the day, it comes down to trust.

In such a meeting we had today, I must admit to being surprised when I was told by the person handling the agency search that the client was a little leery of any new relationship since their last agency didn’t spend the money they were given. This got me thinking about a few quick and easy questions a client could ask, so as to enter into a new agency relationship with the confidence that they made the right choice.

Try these:

On average, how long have your top five clients been with you? If the answer is less than 5, be leery. Long-term client retention comes with complete satisfaction of the services provided. Even if an agency is delivering the results, if there is a feeling that the value isn’t there, then the client won’t stick around. (IMW average=10 years)

How long has your leadership team been working with the agency? More than likely, most good people won’t stick around if they think something shaky is going on. Better yet, a real endorsement is when a key employee leaves (say for another opportunity or personal move) and then comes back. (We’ve had 2 key people leave and come back.) 

Have you lost an account in the last year? If so, why did they leave? There are many reasons clients part company with an agency…sometimes they just want a change. New management wants to bring in a trusted partner from the past. There was a personality clash. They didn’t like something so afterwards the agency changed and is now better. But in asking the question, not only the answer is important but the confidence in the reply, as well. (For us, one, consolidation.)

What types of awards have you won? We know awards matter. Especially the ones voted on by our peers who are some of the toughest critics. (We’re thankful for the clients who let us do award-winning work!)

So, trust matters. And no agency should be put off if you take just a few extra minutes and ask a couple more questions.