Many marketing organizations face the same challenges: brands are working with multiple agencies with no cohesion, centralized global strategy or single source of truth. This leads to significant budget waste, core audience confusion, lack of shared learnings and ultimately hindering a brand’s true growth potential.

When required agency services and operating models are misaligned with core needs, organizations end up paying additional and unnecessary agency fees. Tenx4’s extensive database of agency pricing confirms the importance of finding the right agency partner based on fit. A recent survey of ours also found that many organizations feel that they are overpaying their agency, which could be due to the agency not being built to service an account like theirs. Therefore, properly evaluating an agency partner is worth the extra time to save your organization significant marketing dollars that otherwise would have been wasted.

Identifying the right agency partner is a robust and time-consuming task with multiple moving parts and multiple stakeholders (often with conflicting goals). Successful CMO’s have applied the following six steps in making the agency evaluation process easier and more successful:

  1. Global Vision: It is imperative that the team understands the global vision and the organizational growth goals. This directive for shared accountability and shared goals comes from the CMO or most Senior Marketing Executive. Getting buy-in and creating excitement among the team will reduce friction and increase participation.
  2. Key Stakeholder Alignment: No agency can fix a siloed and fragmented internal system. To create a singular global strategic vision and a true global partnership, the first step is to shift the focus internally. This means that all regional leaders must align on key objectives for what the RFP is solving for and everyone on the team must be moving in the same direction. Successful CMO’s have created a tight scope and reasonable agency requirements.  
  3. Pre-Vetted Agency Shortlist: Agencies being invited to participate in a search for a new agency partner should also be pre-vetted. This means that each agency invited fundamentally meets the business requirements in global operations, services offered, budget requirements, client expertise, bandwidth, etc. If an agency is not built to service the exact needs, the relationship is not set up for success.
  4. Strong RFP Brief: An agency is only as good as the brief they receive. It is important that the brief reflect the business needs and key challenges. Going to market with an old RFP written for myopic goals will not help any organization find the right global partner. Asking the potential agency partners the right questions is key to understanding:
    • If they are experts in what the organization is trying to accomplish
    • If they have done this before or if this is the first time they will be working with a brand in this capacity
    • If they are the right strategic partner to help evolve and grow the brand
  5.  Aligned Contract Scope: There are many budget efficiencies to be had by aligning scope with agency services. While this is often a tedious process, many agency contracts include bloat, such as, additional agency services and team members not needed. CMO’s that support their teams to work through this process have seen significant savings in dollars over time.
  6. Reasonable Onboarding Timeline: Onboarding is not an overnight task. It takes work and time from both the agency and your team. Particularly when you are consolidating from multiple agencies to one global agency, onboarding should be conducted in phases with a clear roadmap for success. Make sure “Go-To Market” dates and full onboarding expectations are reasonable with measurable milestones.

Just like any relationship, the relationship with an agency takes work and time to build. Like Matt Heinz’s ‘Agency Management Best Practices: B2B CMO’s and Agency Heads Get Real’ article states, “It’s all about relationships and must be two-way… agencies need to be proactive to become trusted advisor and have a long-term outlook or why waste time?”.  It is about identifying the right partner who is the right fit for the organization and building the trust to required walk this path together. There will be successes and failures, but the responsibility is on both sides for creating a successful and long-lasting partnership.