With the average client-agency relationship now lasting just three years, brand marketers are increasingly finding themselves needing to review the agency landscape to find new partners. Using our unique position between brands and agencies we have identified the three most frequent reasons a marketer may be looking to find an agency.
It’s not pretty, but with budgets under pressure, marketers are looking for cost savings. If your current agency cannot find flexibility in its fees, then you may look for a partner with a more cost-effective model. Whilst a cost-saving directive may land on your desk, it is important to remember that there will be a period between serving notice to your current agency and having your new agency fully up to speed. Even with the best will in the world, this will cause disruption. To help avoid this, the potential cost saving must outweigh the level of disruption and one way to ensure this is the case is to run a review process that is shorter than the traditional pitch. For example, you could appoint after a chemistry session, or run a workshop with a live brief instead of seeing a pitch with multiple final executions. Another way to minimise the disruption to your team is to outsource the management of the process (organising diaries, responding to agency enquiries, etc.), freeing up your team to concentrate on their day-to-day responsibilities.
2. Strategic change
Admittedly this is quite a broad area. Let’s use a change of channel as an example. If your lead agency is an ATL specialist, but you want to be more digitally led, this may necessitate a change in agency. The same applies if you want to move from putting your budget into printed collateral to an always-on social media strategy. Location is another precursor to needing a new agency. If you launch in a new market and your agency doesn’t have the capability to support, you will need to find new partners, either to run alongside your existing partners, or a bigger agency that can cover all your locations. You may have a good knowledge of agencies in your domestic market, but it is often difficult to get up to speed with which agencies are doing great work in other markets. We would advise enlisting a specialist to help make sure you are putting together a comprehensive long-list at the start of your process.
3. Creative Differences
Often politely cited in the press at the end of a relationship. And it can come from either side of the table. Digging into the actual reasons behind this; from a brand perspective, they could be looking for some fresh thinking, especially if they have had a long relationship which they feel has run its course. From an agency perspective, they may feel they are bringing great creative to the table, but the brand aren’t being bold enough to run with it. There could also have been a personnel change behind this move. If a new Marketing Director comes in and wants to make changes to the brand’s direction that the agency disagrees with, this could mark the end of the road. Equally, the agency might bring in a new ECD (we know how regularly people move between agencies) and the brand might not feel the new output is right for them. People really are important, so our advice would always be when you are considering hiring an agency, meet the people you will actually be working with. The pitch team might be a well-oiled machine, but they are not the people you will be working with day-to-day.