When It Comes To Agency Search Consultants, Agency Execs Suspicious Yet Deferential

Adweek points to a new study from Mirren Business Development that reveals how agency execs feel about agency search consultants.
One of their feelings is that the consultants could improve their services in the following ways:

  • Stop the “cattle calls:” be more selective in the agencies that are being invited.
  • Stop “process for process sake” and instead better focus the process on providing client decision-makers with only the information they really need to make informed decisions.
  • To better understand the key business/marketing/communications issues, provide more access to the client decision-makers.
  • Provide better, more constructive feedback to agencies after reviews.
  • Search Consultants themselves must work harder to better understand the real business/marketing issues/problems.
  • Stop selling services to agencies, which in turn creates the potential for conflict of interest and makes agencies feel obligated to “pay to be in the game.”
  • Stop showing the materials (that were submitted for a particular review) to other agencies.

That’s a lot of “Stops.” But Brent Hodgins, director of client services at Mirren in New York says, “This study is not meant to be a forum for venting, but instead a constructive look at a practice that influences billions of dollars in business changing hands each year.”
It seems to me Google probably handles the bulk of the agency search work, but big spenders like to buy themselves a little help/insurance with the process. And with job and millions of dollars on the line, it’s hard to blame them.
And matchmaking is but one of many services offered by the leading consultants. Other services might include management consulting, market analysis, curriculum development and workforce training. Such is the case at Mercer Island Group.
Scott Meyer of Shandwick says nice things about Mercer Island’s founder. “My experience with Steve Boehler is that he has achieved the Holy Grail of what a consultant is all about. He takes time to understand how his clients make money…and then he helps them make even more money.”



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.