Thoughts On Pursuing Search Consultants For Agency New Business

Coming fresh off the Mirren New Business Conference, I always come back with several solid takeaways I like to share.

This year more than others, we had agencies ask about the efficacy of pursuing search consultants as part of a new business strategy.

It’s tricky, because there are obviously some very effective consultants out there, but I look at it the way I do about RFP’s: courting them too often, or making them a sizable percentage of your new business strategy, is time-consuming, often frustrating and unreliable.

Our Owner and President, Mark Sneider, also runs RSW/AgencySearch, a search consultancy focused on the small to mid-sized agency, and in a recent post on the conference, he provided some perspective around the question:

One of the sessions I attended was called “The Next Generation of Search Consultants: The Change Ahead for Agencies”.

The “change” discussed centered primarily on what we have known for some time, that full-on AORs are going away and more marketers are either finding specialized agencies to meet specific needs (like digital, PR, media) or they are using project work to satisfy specific initiatives central to their business.

There was one moment during the panel discussion that was quite amazing.

I wish I had captured video of the stunned silence that occurred when this group of high profile agency search consultants were asked the question, “How can you help small and mid-sized agencies find their way to the C-Suite?”


Big time search consultants are great at helping big spend marketers.  But when it comes to marketers spending at lower levels, these smaller spend marketers only have a few choices if they want to formally look for a new marketing agency for a project or a full-on assignment:

-Get referrals from friends

-Take meetings with agencies that reach out to them

-Hop on Google and spend time digging around for a new firm

This approach can be limiting and time-consuming for marketers.

The takeaway: you should be doing your homework on a potential fit with consultants, but if you’re a small to mid-sized agency, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have a solid mix of referrals, search consultant relationships (that make sense) and new business outreach driving your new business strategy, with a strong emphasis on new business outreach over the others.


I'm the VP of Sales at RSW/US. We specialize in working with services firms to help drive and close new business-if you need help with that, email me at What I actually do: drive sales efforts to bring ad agencies and services firms on board with RSW, create content around successful new business tactics and help drive RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. Dig it.