The Insights Blog

Mercer Island Group’s Lindsay O’Neil named to executive leadership role (plus her advice to marketers and agencies!)

Mercer Island Group’s Lindsay O’Neil named to executive leadership role (plus her advice to marketers and agencies!)


Marketers and agencies face both exciting and very tough challenges as they exit 2021 and look ahead to the new year – and Mercer Island Group’s Lindsay O’Neil will continue to be there to help guide their success. Lindsay has been promoted to an executive leadership role at Mercer Island Group and will be continuing to counsel senior marketing and agency leaders while helping develop a new generation of talent at Mercer Island Group. In her role as Director, Lindsay will continue to lead major client and agency engagements while overseeing training and development of Mercer Island Group’s rapidly growing team.

Lindsay’s promotion comes on the heels of client work supporting a wide variety of fine clients like UScellular, Giant Food, Zillow Group, Brooks Running, barre3, Kaiser Permanente, Vera Whole Health, Ulta Beauty, Omnipod, Moose Toys and many fine agencies.

Marketers and agencies alike have been spectacularly pleased with her leadership, counsel and support!

“We’ve had the absolute pleasure of working with Lindsay over the past few years and she’s been instrumental in moving our business forward. Her ability to quickly assess our challenges, understand our business, and be our partner in identifying strategic solutions has made her an invaluable resource.”

– Nicole Griffin, CMO, barre3

“Lindsay demonstrates the definition of a true partner. Our agency can always depend on her for sound advice and guidance. When she doesn’t have an immediate answer or solution, she goes the extra mile to help us. Through every RFP process that Lindsay leads, she does so with absolute professionalism and poise. AMP is very excited to continue to work with her in her leadership role!”

– Andie Tilden Jewett, VP, amp agency

“Lindsay is at the top of her game. She fully understands how to bring the best out of both the brand and the agency. That’s rare. She’s an educator, taking the time to coach agencies on how to show up as their best selves. And most importantly, she’s transparent, honest, and gracious with her time and feedback. Lindsay always makes the process worthwhile and dare I say fun. Congratulations Lindsay! We need more strong women out there who just get it. I can’t wait to see what you do next!”

– Ashley Walters, Partner, Curiosity

We caught up with Lindsay and she shared some tips for how marketers and agencies can forge better, more effective partnerships as they head into 2022.

Lindsay, what can marketers and agencies do to create more effective partnerships?

“There is much riding on the relationship between a company and their agency! The best work will come when the relationship is positive and respectful. The client/agency relationship, when at its best, is a partnership like a good marriage. Both sides must be willing to work hard at the relationship over a sustained period of time. The client and the agency must each be willing to create and sustain the partnership. Ultimately, the payoff for the hard work and patience is longevity in the relationship, enhancing the investment in energy for both parties.”

What are the characteristics that define great partners?

“Great partners possess seven important characteristics:

  1. Great partners maintain philosophical alignment. Without some common philosophical beliefs, it will be very hard to have a productive relationship. Values alignment is fundamental.
  2. Great partners speak with ONE voice. They are unified and make clarification and direction as simple as possible.
  3. They manage for consistency. Change is difficult and institutional memory often lost regardless of whether the change occurs at the agency or client. Both teams need to ensure they have processes in place to seamlessly manage their way through change.
  4. Great partners clearly define roles and responsibilities at each level for both the client and the agency. Approval processes are clearly understood.
  5. They foster clear communications and expectations. Maintaining honest and clear dialogue is crucial for great partners.
  6. Great partners ensure effective processes are in place, followed and optimized.
  7. Great partners spend a lot of time developing and working from an agreed-upon strategy.

There is much more about this topic in a post I authored here.”

How can marketers work with their agencies to build a great partnership?

“Here are five quick tips on how to build even more effective client agency partnerships in the year ahead:

  1. Trust the agency’s expertise.
  2. Be open with data and information.
  3. Maintain consistency with strategy and leadership.
  4. Be transparent with expectations of the agency and clearly define success.
  5. Evaluate the state of the client/agency relationship frequently and thoroughly with formal and informal performance review processes.

None of these tips are terribly innovative and none of them are difficult to execute. They simply take a commitment by both teams to forge a great partnership. My advice is to tackle these items in the coming year and you’ll be delighted with the results!”

Robin Boehler is a co-founder of Mercer Island Group. Robin has managed hundreds of agency searches and relationships for businesses of all sizes and types, like Ahold Delhaize, Starbucks, American Century Investments, PEMCO Insurance, PetSmart, Seabourn, Avis Budget Group, Sargento, Ulta Beauty, and dozens of other blue-chip firms. She also has consulted with a wide array of agencies including Digitas, Periscope, W&K, GS&P, Havas, Cactus, DNA, and many others. Robin is a frequent speaker, having presented and keynoted at events sponsored by the BMA, the 4As, AMI, and others.

Steve Boehler, founder, and partner at Mercer Island Group has led consulting teams on behalf of clients as diverse as Zillow Group, Microsoft, UScellular, Nintendo, Ulta Beauty, 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.