Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Infamous “Bait and Switch.”

“Bait and Switch” is an old term, used by both agencies and clients, for people that show up to the new business meeting and somehow fade into the distance once the assignment is awarded. Let’s face it. Every client wants to feel important on the agency roster. The agency wants the same respect in return. Asking the agency during the review process to review the team that will be working on the account is a fair question.

Please take into consideration that an agency is a business too, so the owner/principal/CEO also has to conduct normal business management, vision, training, recruitment, forecasting, board management, etc. It is important that he/she be involved in the new business part of the process, but please do not think that they are going run your account unless they are a really small shop where time can be devoted to such activities. Small, in our definition, is about 10 people or less. If the principal spends all his or her time running accounts, one would have to ask if the company would ever grow given the outlined model.

Agencies would also ask that your CEO be involved too. Is your principle going to be involved in the decision making process of the agency review?

A growing agency CEO should be allocating about 30% of his time to accounts. Factor how many accounts are in his or her shop. You may be surprised to learn that he/she may only allocate 1-2% of total time to your account. But that 1% may be critical to ensuring that the team is focused, motivated and provide that nugget of insight to help make a good idea great. Typically, agencies are structured as part service, part strategy, part creative and part execution. Please think through the % of required time by each level based on the assignment at hand. Take into consideration if your assignment is tactical by nature, or strategic. Don’t put undue pressure to have a very senior person working on a tactical project. Not only will it cost you more, but it doesn’t necessarily add value to the work needed.

Asking the right questions upfront can avoid the perception of a “Bait And Switch” later.

  • Should the incumbent be in the review?
  • Can referrals skew the outcome?
  • Is my budget too big or too small?
  • Is there potential for culture clash between my organization and the agency?
  • Who owns the Intellectual Property?
  • What are the costs for a traditional review?
  • What are the costs associated with a review?
  • Why the same % of agencies are invited by agency review consultants?
  • How long does the traditional review process take?

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