Clients need agencies with happy ears.

Somewhere there is a meeting going on. Shut the front door, no way!  In a boardroom. Wow you’re so on it today Jim.

What I am trying to say is that there is a meeting going on for sure,  but not this one I am  about to make up.  Or maybe it is – who knows – I am beginning to wonder why I even started this.

Let’s move on shall we? I am about to paint a picture of  a pretend meeting that will show you how many decisions are made when it come to hiring agencies.  Have I exaggerated? Of course , why bother otherwise?

Although it is made up to prove my point I’d like to know if you think it hold some water so to speak.

Let’s begin – Six people are sat around a board room table – it could be 4 it could be more, they are talking about one of the current suppliers, I mean partners.

It could be any of them really but let’s pick on advertising, they’re a soft target and if they’re good enough for stand up comedians to pick on they’re good enough for us.

Someone in the meeting, most likely the marketing person says something along the lines of – “Enough is enough, we need another one.” – don’t quote me on that btw – make up your own pretend meeting, if you’re going to be fussy..

Perhaps they say “I think it’s time to think about getting a new agency.”

The others continue in the conversation saying they agree for various reasons – lateness, changing account teams, no sales, blah, blah, blah. Don’t like this, don’t like that… Then the CEO, who is chairing the meeting,  says something like “Okay we are all agreed let’s find a new one.”

(That’s the important bit you see. Until they all agree they need to change for reasons they discussed in that meeting they’ll be no change.)

So what do they do next?

Well they could go to an intermediary – not un-common is it?  The Mkt Dir or CEO says I’ll get on the phone to the intermediary and book us in.

Or the discussion could continue a bit like this. Marketing Directors says –  “I’ll get my marketing manager to go meet some potential suitors?”

The attendees nod.  Then one of the c-suitors says have you got any agencies in mind already? “Yes I think so?”

“Who?” the CEO asks.

“Well I was out with another Marketing Director last week who I have known for ages in fact we used to work together and the work he is getting from his agency sounds perfect for us, so I have booked to go out for lunch with them both next week.”

Lots of nodding and smiles “Great, good luck” says the Opps guy and then the Procurement guy quickly pipes up remember protocol – must have at least 5 agencies involved. The marketer nods respectfully and the meeting ends with a chat about AOB and they leave.

The Marketing Director calls in his marketing manager and says “You’ll be glad to know that we are going to look for a new agency at last, I’ll put Mint Jelly on notice. I need you to meet some potential new agencies, cool?”

“Brilliant I have some great ideas already.”

“Really – who were you thinking?”

“We’ll I’ve been in contact with an integrated agency for over a year now they have some great work and we always get on really well he’s sent me creds, case studies, he’s called me  every other month for  year so he’s nothing if not persistent. I am sure they’d work well with us too.”

“Perfect – do you want to go meet them at their office and check them out?”

“Can I? That would be great – I’ll book them in for next week?”

“We need some more too?’

“Well I like the people who did that TV ad with the monkey and the motorbike?”

“Find ‘em and book ‘em perfect.”

“Err, I could google top ad agencies to fill the gaps?

“Nice one good old google, do them first will you?”

“I’m on it”

The marketing manager returns to their desk.

Types in integrated agency in London look at a few websites – finds one that has some experience in their sector. Eventually finds the telephone number hidden in FAQ’s and surrounded by wacky pictures of  ‘The A-Team ‘talking about their favourite fruit and their most embarrassing antics.  Apparently one of the account directors once got some toilet roll caught on her shoe. Mad.

Picks up the phone, dials and gets to reception  “Hi can I speak with Top Tim please?”

“I’m afraid he’s busy today can I help you?”

“Err not really it’s Tim I need to speak with.”

“He doesn’t take cold calls I am afraid – you can send an e-mail to”

“Thanks but no thanks.” And hangs up.

Returns to google finds another suitor – same agency give or take just a different name and their Team had to make funny faces on their profiles – whatever. Their work looks so-so and they have some experience in the required sector too

He makes the call “Can I talk with Mister Big please?”

“Can I ask who is calling?”

“I’m the marketing manager at All Kinds of Stuff.”

“Just putting you through.”

“Hi Mister Big I am from AKOS and I have looked at your agency and I really like your take on advertising and especially keen on your work in our sector.”

“Thanks very kind of you to say so.”

“I’d like to send you an RFP – I think you’d be a good match for what we need, would you be okay to pitch?”

Mister Big punches the air and try to keep cool –  “Of course but we’d be keen to see the RFP and the brief etc before we commit?”

“Of course, no worries, will be with you next week, all the best – bye now.”

“Quickly before you go – how many pitching?

“Just 5.”

“Thanks for that have a nice day – bye now”

Mister Bigg calls an emergency meeting – “I’ve just a call from a defining piece of business – all hands on deck – let’s smash it.” Excitement ensues.  “This is right up our alley and the marketing director has already told me how much they love our website – great work Jon and Fanny on that site – and they really love the work we did for Most Stuff People Use.”

Err RFP and brief thinks the marketing manager.  I’ll just use the last one it’s only two years old add after all what has changed – we still make stuff,  we are still looking to sell stuff – job’s a good ‘en.

He moves on to his fav agency that has been romancing him for a year or so. He starts to dial reception and quickly remembers he has his direct dial on an e-mail.

“Is that you Lovely Larry?”

“It is – who is this mystery caller – you’re not showing on my caller ID?”

“Well….today could be your lucky day?’

“Are you from the Lottery?’ And snorts.

“Nope – better than that, it’s me from AKOS we’d like you to pitch for our business next month.”

“Thats amazing news! – Thanks so much!”

“I knew you’d be pleased, all your hard work has a paid off – and I look forward to meeting you, I’ll send you a brief etcetera is there anything else you need to know?”

“How many are pitching?”

“Just 5”

“Cool – can I just say thanks so much for including us we here at Relationships Inc are very grateful and we can’t wait to meet you all at a tissue meeting. bye now?’

“Bye now.”

Bloody hell he thinks – I forgot about those tissue meetings – well that’s easy enough 2 hours slots provide sushi and sit it out.

Larry goes to see his boss with they good news.

“You know that company I’ve been prospecting for a year?”

“Which one?’

“AKOS – well we’re in – we’re pitching next month – brief etc about to hit my inbox – I knew they’d come good.”

“Good work fella, fill me in over lunch.  That’s your target hit for the quarter hit isn’t it. Reckon your hit target again next month?”


“Good job – well done – onwards and upwards.”

The day at AKOS progresses pretty much but not exactly as above as I said I am making it up.

But does any of it ring any bells so far? Taken any of those calls before? Sure you have – but does it look different now you can see behind the scenes potentially? Let’s continue –

The Marketing Director calls the Marketing Manager up and say “The incumbent (Mint Jelly) was distraught and wants to pitch too. How many agencies have you booked in so far? “

“Err – We have Monkey on a bike agency that I did by e-mail,
Relationship Inc and Mister Bigg’s ”

“Well done – so 3 and with the incumbent that’s 4  and I have one in mind so that’s 5. But can  you just get us 1 more please, just in case someone drops out, you know how procurement are these days?”

“Don’t I just! Sure easy? I’m on it, in fact I have a great one for us.”

Feeling lazy and slightly revengeful and wanted to give his favourite agency a lead he phones back that agency with the receptionist who fobbed him off earlier at Top Tim’s place..

The receptionist answers “Top Tim’s place, good morning.”

“Can I speak with Top Tim please I’d like your agency to pitch for our account I am not a cold caller.”

Cringe – “Yes certainly just putting you through.”

“Hi Top Tim here.”

“Hi Top Tim, we’d like you pitch for our account. I am calling from AKOS and me and my boss think the work on your website is simply outstanding and I’d like to  send you a RPF and a brief to pitch for our account.”

“Great news – I’ll get the creatives straight on it I know exactly what you guys need.”

“Perfect – look forward to meeting you all bye now, bye.”


Top Tim high fives himself, pick up the phone and books his fav restaurant with his lead creatives to celebrate the win. Job’s a good ‘en.

Meanwhile – the Marketing Director from AKOS arrives at the latest Tapas bar to meet his old pal another Marketing Director and his current agency’s new business director Steve from Rain-dancer’s.  After small talks – the AKOS Marketer Director asks “So my pal here says you do good work for him?”

“I like to think so.  And he told me you maybe thinking of moving away from Mint Jelly.”

“Pretty much.”

“Pretty Much? You’re not sure?

“No we are – I put them on notice already?”

“So do you think you could handle an account like ours?”

“Well you are probably the same size account as his – why don’t you ask him?” Does that laugh thing.

He turns and looks at his pal and smirks knowingly.

“I have already told him you’d be perfect for him but maybe he’d like to know more?”

“Sure – what would you like to know that Tim hasn’t told you already?”

“I guess not a lot really.”

“Can I ask you some questions?”

“What did Mint Jelly do that is making you leave them?”

“In short they are not up to speed?”

“Which means?  Delivering late?Bad account management?”

“All of the above,” And laughs

“How has this impacted the business?”

“We’ll at our last board meeting everyone was pretty annoyed with them for various reasons and KPI’s have not been hit.”

“Which KPIs in particular?’

“Sales mainly?”

“And you’re out by how much?”


“And in money terms that is how much?

“8 million pounds”

“So there is plenty of work to do then?’

“You could say that.”

“Do you see that as a big number to turn around or a small one, ever turned that corner before?’

“It isn’t a particularly big number and yes it is doable ,if that is your question – we have had fluctuation like this before”

The meeting ambles on with business conversation…where Steve gets a low down on the business issue and the hurt it is causing our Marketing Director at AKOS (consultative selling)

So who is going to win this pitch, readers?  And why?

Have you ever been the receiver of one of the phone calls earlier in the story and had happy ears?

The marketing team are putting together a list with clear columns A – B – C – D & E right?

So who is in A column, that will share the spoils with column B about 85% of the time? You know who is in B – don’t you? Column B has got some work to do though mind – don’t you reckon?

And who is in C , D And E?  Would you know when your agency is in columns C,D or  E – would you be able to fold? What if you were chasing a KPI and that pitch helped you hit a target or earned commission even, could you turn it down then?

Do you know those three agencies (C,D and E) share about 15% between them?  We know who is the rank outsider right? No chance at all – pure column fodder.  Would he know that though?

Clients are more likely to buy from a referred supplier than any other source by miles. Mind your happy ears when a buyers calls you out of the blue saying nice things, especially marketing managers.  You maybe column fodder just to keep procurement happy.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *