PHASE I: Prescreen Briefing Understand what went wrong with your old agency and what you need and want out of your new agency. Weeks 1—2
We do not start by having you, the client, review credentials, reels or portfolios.
We start by understanding what went wrong with your current or former agency relationship and what you are looking for in a new agency. We ask some very pointed and possibly uncomfortable questions based on our experience of what distinguishes a good client-agency relationship from a bad one. We also want to know the basic parameters of your search, such as agency location or size, so that we do not waste your or the agencies' time.
We then provide you with a one-page brief describing your ideal agency (this will also be shared with all competing agencies). With your final approval of the brief, we develop an agency long list, which includes a clear explanation of why each agency on the list was selected. We also provide you with every agency's website address so you can examine their current work, client list, culture, and personality.
After your brief is determined, we meet with key team members to help you develop a comprehensive, detailed Scope of Work (SOW) as well as a zero-based profit plan for your new agency. We then assist in precisely determining the level, time and experience needed on each assignment and an acceptable rework rate for each of those assignments.
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PHASE II: Client Understanding Know how an agency thinks and what its first impressions are of your brand. Weeks 3–4
Typically at this stage, agencies are asked to fill out a standard questionnaire about themselves. Usually it asks for information that is easily obtained and that review consultants already know.
We believe this old-fashioned approach is a waste of time for both the agencies and for you, the client.
Instead, we want clients to learn more meaningful information about each agency on their long list. To facilitate this goal, BLAMER PARTNERSHIP asks the agencies a customized set of questions.
Their answers will help you understand:
- Is the agency willing to learn about your business? If so, how?
- How does the agency stay current on your business?
- What are the agency's first impressions of your brand and category?
- Are these impressions insightful? Off the mark?
All long-list agencies are given two weeks to respond to the customized questions we ask them and can do so in any form they wish (e.g., digital, video, in writing—anything but in person) to show both their creativity and strategic thinking.
After receiving the responses, it typically takes one or two days to select between three and six agencies from your long list to move on to the next round.
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PHASE III: Chemistry Work Session A window into how you and your potential new agency will work together. Weeks 5–7
Day in and day out, you and your agency must work together smoothly. While we cannot replicate this long-term relationship, we can give you a window into what it could be like. At this stage in the selection process, we conduct a two-hour work session with you and each agency that made the cut.
To prepare for these sessions, we help you choose a discussion topic, select the appropriate informational documents for the agencies, and make sure all eyes stay on the prize: selecting the right agency.
The agencies prepare for this meeting during Weeks 5 and 6, and the two-hour sessions take place during Week 7. The agency team members slated to work on your account must be in attendance. This two-hour work session is not meant to be a presentation. Rather, it is a dialogue, an exchange of ideas between you and your potential agency. A BLAMER PARTNERSHIP consultant is present, but only to monitor the meeting, not to participate.
At the end of this phase, you should have a good sense of how each of your potential agencies thinks on the spot, prepares for meetings, understands your business, and interacts with your team. After the work sessions, BLAMER PARTNERSHIP engages with you to cut your short list down to four (or fewer) agencies that best fit your team’s culture and way of working.
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PHASE IV: Strategic and Creative Thinking & Compensation Test the agencies with a real-world problem and know what your defined Scope of Work costs. Weeks 8–12
Once agency finalists are chosen, it is time to test their strategic and creative thinking skills. With your help, we outline a real-world marketing challenge facing your company or brand and ask each agency to develop a presentation that addresses this issue. The agencies are given four weeks to prepare for this presentation.
During these four weeks, BLAMER PARTNERSHIP works with the agency finalists to help them develop their compensation proposals based on the SOW and the zero-based profit plan you outlined in Phase I. We believe it is essential and fair that Blamer Partnership provides identical benchmark information to each finalist, but if an agency believes it is necessary to modify the SOW and incentive plan, they may do so and provide rationale for the change.
BLAMER PARTNERSHIP takes unique and unprecedented steps to determine SOW and use zero-based profits because we believe doing so is critical to a successful and accountable client-agency relationship. Thoughtful calculations ensure that you end up with a compensation arrangement based on workload, not on some other metric that doesn't actually measure what agency resources are required.
During Week 12, each agency finalist is given three hours to make a presentation and review its compensation proposal.
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PHASE V: Selection Select a winning agency and communicate the result to the others. Confirm the contract. Week 13
It is important and professionally responsible for you to make your final agency selection within one week of finalist presentations, though remaining questions can of course be addressed in subsequent conversations.
Once your selection is made, BLAMER PARTNERSHIP will contact the winning and other agencies within a one-hour time frame before we make appropriate and previously agreed upon statements to the press.
Then a specific client-agency contract is drafted based upon the SOW and fee structure you and your chosen agency agreed upon during the review process.
BLAMER PARTNERSHIP provides tracking forms and specific instructions to the winning agency on how to measure and track SOW.