Agency Selection Criteria-How Important Is Cost to Marketers?

Agency Selection CriteriaIn our 2013 Agency-Marketer Business Survey, we assessed agency selection criteria.  We wanted to find out how important different variables were in their decision making process when selecting a new agency.

We asked agencies the same question – relative to what they thought marketers were using and what they thought they SHOULD be using.

Interestingly, what marketers ARE using and what agencies think marketers SHOULD be using is nearly identical.

Either marketers aren’t giving us the whole story – or things like cost really don’t matter that much to marketers when evaluating agencies.

I know that in the searches we’ve managed for RSW/AgencySearch cost has been discussed, but only as a last conversation point in the search.  Decisions have been based on the two primary things marketers say are important to them:

  • Creative ideas
  • Strategic thinking

What marketers tell us in our survey is that cost is important, but it ranks right up there with category experience and chemistry.  Things important, but not necessarily deal breakers if you bring the right program to the table.

So what does this mean for you, the agency?Agency Selection Criteria

  • Worry about the things that are important to your prospect’s business, not how much they might/might not be concerned about cost.
  • Open up the possibilities.  The agencies that have won the last few searches we’ve managed have pushed the boundaries a bit and come to the table with fresh, creative ideas – and not same old category ideas.
  • Be likeable and genuine.
  • Subtly remind them of your category experience as you present.  I wrote a post recently on RSW/AgencySearch’s blog about making them feel like you’re already ramping up.  The more you can make the marketer feel like you’re in the ramp up phase because of what you’ve put in front of them, the better.
  • Key is minimizing the impact of cost as a variable.  Give them too many positives to make them feel like your value is worth your cost.

Stay focused on the right elements and you’ll be in a much better position in the end.


Mark is a 30-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark started his career at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to earning his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Prior to starting RSW/US in 2005, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson and KAO Brands. Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences domestically and internationally including the 4A’s, Magnet, NAMA, TAAN, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes. When not working (which often seems like not often), Mark likes to run miles, go to church, and just chill with a hard copy issue of Fast Company.