The Insights Blog

Principles to govern a respectful, effective agency review

Principles to govern a respectful, effective agency review

Year in and year out, roughly a third of marketers expect to change agencies.

The result is hundreds of agency selection processes. About a quarter, mostly the largest, are run by consultants. The rest – the majority – are run by the clients. Some are managed by procurement and the rest by the marketers themselves.

Unfortunately, many review practices can be costly, unprofessional and even inhumane. We often hear from agencies that they never receive any feedback during a review or even upon losing a review from the client or the consultant. Some consultants include costly and irrelevant steps like requiring agencies to create unique video submissions. To make matters worse, some search consultants charge for agencies to be in their databases, or their newsletters or their “curated” lists. Some even charge agencies to be in reviews.

At Mercer Island Group we love the industry, value the hard work of the agencies involved and strive to represent our clients in a manner that reflects well on them and the industry. In response to these problems, we have continuously worked to improve our process to make it as professional, respectful and successful as possible. An important step in this evolution has been to develop a series of principles that ensure a process that is fair to agencies and effective for clients.

Our approach is governed by principles designed to make the search process as fair and equitable as possible and is much stricter than even the 4As/ANA guidelines.

Our commitment to our clients, agencies and our industry:

  • We will represent our client in a manner that reflects well on them and the industry.
  • We will never charge an agency to be in our database, our newsletters or to participate in a review.
  • We will respect the agencies’ work, IP, and confidentiality.
  • We are readily available to participating agencies during a review and strive to answer their questions in a timely fashion.
  • We deliver consolidated tissue/strategy session feedback to participating agencies within 24 hours.
  • We provide participating agencies with feedback and improvement suggestions after the review.
  • We will never invite an agency into a review to “fill out a field”. If an agency is invited, they have a fair playing field.
  • We will never run a review when the winner is predetermined.
  • We only invite a reasonable and respectful number of agencies to RFI processes (typically 10 or less) and RFP efforts (generally 4).
  • We continuously research the agency marketplace to be sure we are aware of and familiar with as many agencies as possible. This is good for both our clients and agencies.

These principles are our promise to our clients, the agencies involved in our reviews and to the industry we love.

I’d be delighted to discuss these principles with any client, agency or trade professional.

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.