Have you met Spot? He’s a polka-dot leopard who changes colors and even juggles his own spots — all in a desperate effort to convince two children he’s special enough to be exhibited in the zoo.
He’d have been a great fit at most agencies. Especially at pitch time.
If you’ve never experienced the typical agency RFP unboxing ceremony, let me set the stage. The RFP arrives and you stare at it in wonder. Your imagination races, thoughts coming to mind in roughly three stages:
- Think about the difference we could make for this client!
- Working on this brand would be SO kickass!
- We Cannot. Screw. This. Up.
It’s exhilarating, in an ulcer-inducing sort of way
You study the RFP like your life depends on it. You look for requirements against which you might be perceived to be lacking. And then you take your story — your story, the one you’ve so carefully crafted to tell the world who you are … and you begin to change your spots.
And that’s usually where it all falls apart, for the agency and for the client. Because no agency — no matter how talented — can keep up the juggling act forever.
Look for partners who stand their ground
1. Do they have depth of experience where you need it most?
Find an agency that specializes, that’s crazy-good at what you need instead of taking a jack-of-all-trades shotgun approach. And look for an agency that’s helped clients with similar challenges. Chances are if they’ve succeeded before, they’ll succeed again.
2. Do they legitimately care about your customer and their experience?
At the end of the day, your agency needs to care as much about serving your customer as you do. Find people that are passionate about the customer experience. Your customer and your business will reap the rewards.
3. What is their approach to customer service?
A lot of agencies have dedicated pitch teams that are off-the-charts amaze-balls. They’ll make your head spin with all of their wooing. But when the deal is done, they move on to the next pitch. Make sure the people in the room are the ones who will do the work. After all, you want a partner, not a slick sales team.
4. Is there transparency in agency compensation?
There’s no room for hocus-pocus in business. Successful client-agency partnerships are based on mutual investment. When it’s time to talk compensation, it should be a straightforward discussion. No surprises. No strings.
5. Is there a culture fit between your team and the agency?
Chemistry goes a long way. Provided all goes well, you and your agency are going to be in the trenches together for a long while. Your life will be so much better if you actually like them.
Most importantly, look for agencies that stay true to themselves throughout the RFP process. At Redonk, it’s not uncommon for us to tell a potential client we’re just not the right fit for them. It hurts for a little while, but it’s the right thing to do. And as Spot learned, there’s a perfect fit out there for all of us.
Have you own advice about finding an agency that’s a perfect fit? Let us hear it @redonkmarketing #PutMeInTheZoo
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