Think it’s time to find a new ad agency or PR firm? Here are 3 things to consider.

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After conducting thousands of public relations and advertising agency searches and reviews, AgencyFinder.com's CEO shares three factors to help put things into perspective.

When an economy experiences a slow rebound like ours, account turnover is a sign that marketers are being more creative and thoughtful with regard to whom they entrust their brands and their money.

Marketing assignments from brands around the world – worth millions (and sometimes billions) of dollars – find new homes with new marketing, advertising and PR firms every week. “Don’t let the pace of account turn-over trick you into thinking the market is growing,” warns AgencyFinder.com’s Chairman and CEO, Chuck Meyst. “In fact, when an economy experiences a slow rebound like ours, account turnover is a sign that marketers are being more creative and thoughtful with regard to whom they entrust their brands and their money.”

“The worst thing a company owner or brand manager could do with their marketing budget is hastily move it from one service provider to another without carefully considering the consequences,” explains Meyst. “We function in a profession where people craft perceptions for a living. A change in agencies can be perceived as a harbinger of change – with new creative, fresh ideas and a bold voice coming soon.”

“As a result, I’ve seen clients get fooled into thinking they have to make a change as a reaction to a competitor’s move. And that can be a disastrous mistake.”

Meyst’s AgencyFinder has been in the business of helping business owners and brand managers identify, contact and engage marketing service providers like full-service advertising agencies and PR firms for nearly twenty years. The company uses a unique blend of personal counseling (usually provided by Meyst, himself) and a rich database of information on over 7,500 marketing service operations with some located in Europe, but most primarily in North America.

AgencyFinder conducted over 180 searches so far in 2014 and predict seeing even more search activity in 2015 as the economy continues its slow climb. Over the company’s past eighteen years, AgencyFinder.com has been involved in over 11,000 agency search and selection reviews.
“Most of the searches we conduct are for companies with project or account budgets between $75,000 and $10 million a year covering fees, production and media, but we do get the occasional national brand interested in spending much, much more,” says Mr. Meyst. The kind of searches AgencyFinder conducts means Meyst is often in direct contact with business owners and senior management rather than a corporate brand manager – and the perspective of the entrepreneur has helped him identify three critical factors a client must consider before hiring their new marketing partner:

1.)    “Don’t be too focused on regionality,” warns the founder of the marketing industry’s first, online-data-driven agency search consultancy. “Technology has made it possible for an agency on the East Coast to successfully service and produce for a client on the West Coast.” Meyst points out that service providers in some parts of the country have a much lower cost-basis than those operating out of major metro areas – making geographic location have a very tangible effect on the cost of services provided.

But it is important to weigh the benefits of working with experts in another part of the country for the need the business owner or brand manager will have for direct, face-to-face contact. “Sometimes clients just need the reassurance that can be gained by a little face-time,” he said. “So, if that’s important to you, make sure that’s a parameter in your search criteria.”

2.)    “Make sure your internal decision-making process is worked out first,” continues Mr. Meyst. “I’ve seen several clients with great products, fresh opportunities, new ideas and plenty of money get the cold shoulder from perfect agencies just because the confusion inside the client’s operation meant no one could give clear direction, approvals or make a timely decision.”

The key take-away here: decision-making speed and sensibility are more important now than ever and opportunities are counted in minutes and hours not in days or weeks.

3.)    His third point gets to the bottom line: “Know what you’re willing to spend to make things happen – and remember, accuracy is more important than size when it comes to identifying a potential marketing budget.” In order to get an agency’s best effort on a new business pitch, they need a clear idea of what a client is willing and able to spend so they can provide solutions and recommendations that can be realistically (and profitably) produced.

“The most successful agency-client relationships are built on mutual trust and understanding,” explains Mr. Meyst. “And that all starts at the very first budget conversation. It’s on the agency to provide their best recommendations of what can be done and then set the client’s expectations accordingly – but if they get bogus budget guidelines from the client, everyone is set up to fail.”

Once a client has completed the online questionnaire provided to initiate a preliminary database review by the AgencyFinder staff, they are contacted directly (very often by Meyst himself) to introduce the service and review the search and selection process. “Because our services are made available to business owners and brand managers at no charge, we get a lot of initial contacts,” he says. “The call I make really helps separate those folks just looking for an online directory – which we’re not – and those who are serious about finding new or additional marketing service providers.”

“In my discussions, we always work to clarify these three factors first in order to save time and make sure our one-on-one counseling leads to a successful outcome for everybody.”

About AgencyFinder – AgencyFinder and its companion web site, agencyfinder.com, is a service of Business Partnering, Int. (BPI), a Virginia corporation founded in February of 1997. The service is unique in its match-making process for pairing advertising, public relations and marketing agencies with clients and is intended for use by companies seeking agency support for projects, campaigns or long-term relationships. Searching is free to marketers and supported with complimentary search consulting advice (telephone and on-site consultations) provided by BPI’s executive staff. Advertising agencies and public relations firms (right-sized for budgets less than $100,000 to more than $100 million) pay an annual registration fee to be in the on line database and to be eligible to participate in reviews.

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Charles Meyst - Chairman & CEO
AgencyFinder
+1 (804) 346-1812
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Mike Bawden - Partner
B&LPR
(563) 569-8654
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