The Insights Blog

Marketer & Agency Exec’s guide to the agency visit

Marketer & Agency Exec’s guide to the agency visit


You’re considering an agency for a key assignment. You may be well into a competitive agency review or simply are exploring agencies for near term or future efforts.

You’ve done your homework. You’ve found an agency that looks promising!

But any agency decision is an important decision. You’ve decided to visit the agency (good idea!) to see and experience firsthand what the team is like and hear them talk about their offerings and what working with them is like.

How do you plan and manage an agency visit that sets up your team and the agency to be able to put your best feet forward?

A site visit can be an important step in evaluating an agency. To make the most of your visit, we recommend that you approach the visit with a limited number of objectives in mind and keep the visit focused on those topics.

Some clients attempt to cover too much ground and too many minor issues – which in our experience can lead to missed opportunities and even less clarity in the process.

Agency Visit Guide
We recommend that you keep the visit simple and straight forward.
Co-Plan the Agenda
First things first: both marketer and agency will have a better visit if you start at the beginning: the agenda. Plan your visit along with your agency counterpart! A good agency visit starts before the visit with a clear and mutually agreed agenda. This planning gives the agency the opportunity to address any questions or concerns that you may have or to clarify their responses to previous questions. The idea is not to make the visit a “spot quiz”. Provide your requests in writing and allow time for the agency to address the questions during your visit.
Marketer Advice
Focus on the following four areas as you approach your visit:
Agency Advice

The key for agencies is to remember that this IS business and at the same time you’re the host.

That means:

The partnering of a client and an agency is one of the most important and difficult decisions in business. A visit can really help both parties size each other up. Regardless of whether you are a client or agency executive, remember that this is a dating process. Be yourself.
Steve Boehler, founder, and partner at Mercer Island Group has led consulting teams on behalf of clients as diverse as Ulta Beauty, Microsoft, UScellular, Nintendo, Kaiser Permanente, Holland America Line, Stop & Shop, Qualcomm, Brooks Running, and numerous others. He founded MIG after serving as a division president in a Fortune 100 when he was only 32. Earlier in his career, Steve Boehler cut his teeth with a decade in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble, leading brands like Tide, Pringles, and Jif.