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10 Considerations Any Marketers Should Know Before Undertaking An Agency Search in 2014

10 Considerations Any Marketers Should Know Before Undertaking An Agency Search in 2014

You are in charge of the marketing department of your Brand or company? You want to fast-forward your Business by working on the right idea with the right partner, but you don’t know where to start?

This checklist has been conceived to help you in this hard process. Be sure to be able to respond to all of the following point in order to start searching your new marketing and/or communication partner.

  1. Before proceeding to a RFP (request for proposal)


Be aware that an agency search could be expensive for your company and for the agencies in terms of time, human resources invested and collateral cost such as:

  • The loss of knowledge & historical tracking of the incumbent agency.
  • Huge requested investment in time and money for the participating agency (on average from 1,5 k€ and 50k€)
  • The learning curve of the new agency to fit exactly with your brand or company need.
  • The transitional period to transfer all the documentation and knowledge about your brand
  1. Be sure to know why you are reviewing your current agency

In order to be sure that you really need to change your current agency partner try to respond to the following question.

  • Is your current agency relationship not going well?
  • Have you established clear objectives with your agency and measure the impact of the previous campaign?
  • If you feel deceived by your agency, are you sure to have put everything in action to restore the existing client-agency relationship to health?

If you have answer to the following questions positively we advice you to consider undertaking an agency search.

 You can ask to a third party consultant to facilitate this process. 

  1. Be sure to have full buy-in
  • If the review is deemed to be the best action, are you sure that your company’s top manager fully endorsed the decision to review your incumbent agency?
  • Is the key decision makers among your company have been clearly identified and enlisted in the selection process?

 don’t start the process if you are not sure to have full buy-in. 

  1. Involve the procurement department into the process 

procurement involved

As the marketing manager, you should involve your colleagues from the procurement department from the outset, rather than just bringing them in at the end to discuss the contract and terms.

You will then benefit from their point of view and assure a better internal communication onto the budget spending.

  1. Do not hesitate to ask external help if needed

Depending on your  experience, you will be more or less used to managing long-list and shortlist process. You should then ask yourself, if you are certain to know the best practices in the marketing and communication selecting process?

If not, that’s ok, you are not the only one in that case; we therefore advice you to seek outside professional to help you from both the trade bodies and the specialist consultant intermediaries.

A consultant can give you step-by-step guidance during the search and selection process of agency and will permits you to reduce friction in the prospection relation.
  1. Check your contracts


Before the process begins you should check the provisions within your contract with your incumbent agency, particularly with regard to the notice period and termination of contract.

This is essential to know if you are contractually ready for an agency review and selection process.

  1. Have you considered TUPE (transfer of undertaking protection of employment)?

You should also consider the possible impact of TUPE – Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) – Regulations 2006, on the termination of contract. Under the Regulations, any employees who have been ‘dedicated’ to the client account have the right to transfer their employment (on the same terms and conditions) from the incumbent agency to the new agency, or to the client if the work is being taken in-house. We recommend that reviews be conducted under the terms of the IPA/ISBA TUPE Protocol, which can be requested from either trade body.

  1. Inform your current agency in order to respect their work

You should consider the implications of informing your existing agency that the review of arrangements is taking place, weighing the need for confidentiality against the scenario of the incumbent finding out about the review from a source other than their client.

  1. Prepare a clear written brief

Gain full agreement with all those involved in the decision making process about what the requirements of the agency are.

Invest time and effort in agreeing the budget and producing a written brief describing the brand or company’s current position, and where it wants to be in the context of clear marketing and business objectives.

Decide whether the client is acting as the orchestrator of a series of agency relationships, needs a ‘lead’ agency, or requires a ‘one-stop-shop’.

Miscommunication during the briefing process is in 67% of the case the source of conflicts in agency-clients relationship. So be sure to really know the need of your marketing department.conflict-communication

  1. What kind of pitch will you hold?
  • The traditional pitch process is expensive for both parties, so agree fees where appropriate to offset a fair proportion of agency costs and to ensure a professional approach on both sides.
  • Note that many successful agency appointments are based on reputation, personal chemistry, credentials and references from other clients, as opposed to pitches. Be sure to contact the right agencies before asking them for a pitch.
  • Workshops and trial projects are also effective methods of choosing an agency. Equally, online ‘e- sourcing’ techniques may help in the initial stages of researching the marketplace, but they should not replace the face-to-face contact which is so important in conducting a successful review and selection process

10. Communicate on your agency review

It is advisable to prepare a communication strategy about the agency review in advance, including a press release, so that you are prepared to deal with approaches from the trade press if news of the pitch is leaked at any stage during the process.


Be conscious that an agency search process is time and resources consuming.

Before contacting agencies be sure to have well prepare the search process with a clear and specific brief

Involve all your company colleague in the process (top level & procurement)
Don’t hesitate to ask for some help from an external consultant in helping you in the selection process.


Remember that in order to fast-forward your business you need to work on the right idea, with the right skilled agency fitting your company culture. You need help to guide you in this agency search, check out this following infography onto http://blog.sortlist.com/find-communication-agency/ .

Do you have other tips or remarks to share in order to optimize the agency search process?

Sources :

IPA : www.ipa.co.uk

The Chartered Institute of purchasing & suply : www.cips.org

ISBA : www.isba.org.uk

MCCA : wwwmcca.org.uk

PRCA: www.prca.org.uk

About Thibaut Vanderhofstadt

Entrepreneur interested in growth hacking & digital marketing. Co-Founder of Sortlist which connect businesses to amazing communication & marketing agencies.