No more beauty parades: Ben Rose offers a new approach to agency selection

Enough with the contrived beauty show pitch, I want to propose a new way. But before I get started let’s all agree on one thing: finding the right agency partners is essential to us all and it can be the difference between adding millions to your bottom line. Unfortunately, most marketers employ a process I believe has become outdated, does not give the best result and costs both them and the parties involved significantly in time and money.

First to suffer are the participating agencies’ existing clients, who are no longer a priority for the A-team focused on new business. Sadly, all of this agency brain power can be wasted working on the presentation that looks best on the day, rather than the one that will make the biggest difference in the long term.

The big risk for clients is that by the end of the process, they are covered in glitter but still unclear of what the agency will actually do for them once the show is over. I think it’s often a waste of everyone’s time. At Sovereign, we have big ambitions and no time to waste, so we approached the process differently.

In a town this close-knit, where most marketers have a good network within the industry, I reckon it’s best to start by defining your requirements and creating a short list of agencies that are a good fit with your brand. Verify your thinking through a chemistry and credentials session with each just to make sure.

Put together a scorecard of what is important to your organisation. Things like understanding of your category, business acumen, value for money, attention to detail and execution vs. strategy.

Interview existing clients to get the full picture and give yourself confidence and clarity in making a decision.

We recently did things this way [and JWT and Dentsu Aegis won the business]. We had transparency, clarity and direction on both sides. No resources were wasted and we completed the process within a few weeks enabling us to get straight to the business of doing. Of course, the proof will be in the marketing that gets delivered, but based on our experience so far, the signs are all good.

It makes sense to me. How about you?

  • Ben Rose is head of brand at Sovereign. He has worked on both sides of the pitching process during his career, locally and overseas.

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