Having now managed over 30 searches for brands like Mariano’s, Mercy Health, Jack-in-the-Box, Duck Tape, Mizkan Foods, Cayman Islands, and Motorola, we haven’t seen it all…but we’ve seen quite a bit.

Here are some of the “best of the worst” of agency searches – and some pointers for agencies if they’re listening/watching/reading this post!Best of the wurst

  • In a final pitch presentation, one of the PR firms went through their standard set of introductions.  And because the team was so young, rather than talking about their past business experience, they all talked about the colleges they went to!  Now there’s a vote of confidence!

Lesson:  Think carefully about who you’re bringing and what their role is in the pitch.  Maybe even think about bringing in a few “ole timers” to round out the show.

  • As preparation for a final pitch, a healthcare agency was asked to present very specific things during the final presentation…and they chose to leave out at least 2-3.  Did they even read the Challenge Document?

Lesson: Fine to step outside the requirements, but don’t ignore them outright.  Do as you’re asked, not just as you’d do.

  • During a final pitch, a full service agency was asked what consumer insight their campaign recommendation was built from.  Their answer might have well have been “nothing” because there wasn’t one that they could legitimately identify!

Lesson:  Marketers want sound strategy and smart thinking… not pretty pictures and fun campaigns (at least most do!).

  • A full service agency was specially invited by the client to present during a major retail pitch.  Maybe because they thought they were a shoe-in, they shared nothing about the client and everything about their work.  They sat through the entire pitch energy-less and the icing on the cake was no creative guy present because they didn’t think it was that important.

Lesson: At least look like you care!  And remember, marketers care less about you and more about themselves.

  • An agency was one of two in the post pitch visit stage.  Client paid their visit to this agency’s office and all the work they saw on the walls of the agency (work in progress) was promotional in nature and had very little premium look/feel – which was where this client’s business played.

Lesson:  Leave no stone unturned.  Assume the “wurst” when you bring a prospective client into your home!

While some of this seem like basic “101-ish” stuff…it happens.  I’ve seen it.

So be aware of these “wursts” as you roll into your next pitch and hopefully you’ll find yourself in a winning place!

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.