When your organization has decided that you will need to outsource your certain/all marketing activities to the experts, you need to be much more organized when it comes to choosing the right marketing partner for your brand. Your Agency Selection Schedule lays the foundation for your timely project execution.
What is Agency Selection Schedule?
Next, let’s talk about the agency selection schedule, or also called a timetable. A schedule helps you get people’s attention and commitment when you need it, and keeps the process moving forward in a timely and organized way. I recommend using a basic spreadsheet that people are comfortable using, such as Excel. So what are the key tasks in the schedule? How long does each task take? How do you communicate the schedule to the team?
Let’s talk about the 6 major tasks in the agency selection schedule by going over them one by one:
1. Get organized
Capture the analysis and decisions you’ve made so far. This includes names of team members and their designated roles and responsibilities. Include a step to discuss the budget. The internal team should agree on a general range that’s affordable for year one and looks ahead to year two. You don’t want the agencies to recommend a plan that’s either way over or way under your budget.
2. Define your search Criteria
What are your expectations of the agency? What defines success? Decide which characteristics you’re looking for in an agency. For example, which strengths are most important? What capabilities do you need? What’s relevant experience? How do you define a compatible culture? What’s your desired agency size? And how will you weigh each of these criteria?
3. Research Potential Candidates
Which agencies would you like to learn more about? Typically, companies send what’s known as a request for information, or RFI, to potential agency partners. The RFI gathers information before formally engaging an agency about a marketing proposal. It should be a brief number of questions agreed upon by the team.
4. Write the RFP
After narrowing your search, you’ll then create a Request for Proposal, or RFP, from your semifinalist agencies who have made the cut from the RFI. The RFP is a more formal request for information, takes much more time to respond to, and offers the opportunity for both sides to learn more about each other and the possibility of working together. The RFP dives deeper into your agency requirements, and includes legal contract terms and compensation. The agency will ask lots of questions as they work and prepare a response to your RFP that they hope will win your business. Be fair and give equal time to each competing agency. Be available for both formal and informal meetings of conversations. This is how you really get to know an agency. It’s culture, way of thinking, and capabilities. This task four takes the majority of time in the process, figure at least from four to 10 weeks.
5. The Pitch
Following the RFP, the team may invite all or a narrowed down list of agencies to present their thinking. Plan meetings with each of the agencies, allotting the same time for each one, and make sure all team members and decision makers are present for the pitch. Prior to the meetings, give the agency a list of names and titles of those attending, and meet with the internal team to review your criteria and evaluation guidelines. This task generally takes two to four weeks.
6. Agency Selection
Provided a template to team members and decision makers for them to rate each agency on the criteria for evaluation. Once the team decides on a direction, you’ll finalize compensation and contract negotiations. An entire typical agency search usually takes three to five months, but varies depending on your size, scope of work, and scheduling conflicts. Breaking down this process into a series of well defined tasks will help you stay on schedule for an effective, successful agency search process. And remember communication is key. Include key communication updates throughout your schedule so you can be sure the team and decision makers are up to date on the search progress and aware of milestones along the way.