The Two Headed Beast Called Chemistry


I just completed two agency searches on the RSW/AgencySearch side of our business and both really brought to life the importance of two types of chemistry during an agency search.

Agency New Business Chemistry

Chemistry as we all traditionally know it – client-agency chemistry is of central importance.

If the marketing client doesn’t feel good about you or your team, it’s going to be really hard for them to want to work with you.

So how do you maximize your chances for success?

Here are some things you can do.  Or, if you’re involved in a search, hopefully the search consultant can facilitate.

Whenever any of our agency clients are involved in RFPs directed by the marketer, we always  work to get a meeting set up so they aren’t just another piece of paper being submitting a response.  You can do the same for yourself.

On the agency search side of our business, we make sure that all the finalist agencies have time with the marketing client.  This not only helps the agency learn more about the marketer’s business, but also helps them begin to establish chemistry with the marketer.  Ask the consultant if they can facilitate that.

The other thing you need to do before you go in and pitch is find out what you’re up against.  Not who, but what.

How many people are they bringing to the table?  And who are they?  What is the configuration of the room and do they have proper equipment to meet your needs.  Basic questions, yes.  But important questions to not only make your presentation a smooth one, but it starts to show the marketing client, you’re on top of it.

During one of these two searches, we had a situation where the agency either didn’t listen or didn’t care.  They far outnumbered the client, which in the end made the marketing client uncomfortable – and left them questioning why so many came…and so few spoke!

The other type of Chemistry is “Inter Agency Chemistry”.

The more practice you are, the more prepared you are as a team, the more aligned you are in your responses, the better you look.

Agency Chemistry

In one of our two searches, I asked a question about how this one agency was going to bring their idea to life in light of the way they suggested they were going to bring the marketing plan to life.  Both of these appeared to be fairly time and cost intensive.

After the question was asked, I got the start of a response from one of the principals, and not soon after he started, the other principal jumped in to say that what was being described was actually beyond the scope of what current budgets were…….say what?

Clearly a miss on the part of this agency in not being aligned on exactly what they were presenting and how to respond.  This lack of cohesion ultimately is what did the agency in.

I’ve seen Inter Agency Chemistry issues present themselves when “strategic partners” are brought into a presentation.  At times it can be painful to watch two different personalities of an agency that are not well practiced together and generally don’t feel terribly aligned.

Practice, practice, practice.  Expect the unexpected.  Think through all the possible questions that jerks like me might ask (my question wasn’t jerky…it was legit).  And be yourself, not a “showboaty” ad person.

Author: Mark Sneider

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.