When you’re in the market for an agency and have 2.5m to spend on a brand campaign you see an agency in a different light.

Here are five truths I discovered in my process to find the right agency:

  1. Desperation can be felt

I get it, who doesn't want 2.5M in their figures this year; but at what cost?

Are you willing to throw time and money at winning a client if deep down you know your expertise isn’t suited to the client or project.  Clients can feel desperation and it’s not attractive. Selling your soul won’t win them over it’ll just demoralize your staff and lose you money.

Make sure you know what kind of clients you want and have a strategy for growth in place to ensure you’re super clear that the leads you go after are aligned with your vision and future plans for the agency.

  1. Agencies don't like asking questions

If a client is interested in working with you, the first question you need to ask yourself is – do you want to work with them? What will this client give you in return? Will it help you achieve your agency goals and vision for growth?

If it's a yes – what do you need to know? Draw up a list of questions, do some research and arrange that meeting.  If the client is reluctant to put the time in at this stage then do you want to work with them anyway?

Relationships work where’s there’s mutual respect, and a working relationship works best when the buyer is clear in what they want to achieve and the seller is honest about being able to deliver it. It’s that simple – They agree on a shared goal and then make it happen.

  1. Don’t answer a brief that doesn't exist

Whether it's a chemistry meeting, Q&A session or a creds’ meetings don’t try to answer their challenge when you don't fully know the problem. By this point the brief probably won’t have been signed off so this is your time to see if the fit is right and get to know them as real human beings. The best chemistry meetings are when everyone is being themselves, no theatre – no sales pitches.

Trying to fix the challenge without knowing the full story is a disaster. Go armed with questions, but don't presume.

  1. Honesty is always the best policy

As part of the process, I need to know of any client conflicts but I rarely get a straight answer. The answers are often vague to say the least, it’s a simple yes or no but agencies are often keen to find out if the sector relevant experience was a thumb up or down. Honestly is always the best policy. Clients can see through the smoke and mirrors and with an industry as incestuous as ours chances are they’ll probably find out any untold truths anyway.

  1. If its not relevant – don’t show it

We all have portfolio work, that super creative campaign, a big name brand or award winning work, but don’t roll it out if its not relevant to the client project. This is the biggest mistake I’ve seen with agencies.  A show of pretty pictures that clients can’t relate back to their current challenge is annoying to say the least.  If you’ve asked the right questions you should be discussing the relevant tactics that have worked.  You’re not selling creative work; you’re selling results.

There’s a lot of talk around the agency model being broken, which I don't believe is the case. It’s more the agency – client relationship that needs fixing.  Clients need to be clearer on what they want to achieve and start using agencies as a consultancy service again, with agencies being more honest, offering expert guidance and for both parties t0 create a shared goal.

That's how the agency- client relationship needs to work with good honest comms.

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