LinkedIn emplea cookies para mejorar la funcionalidad y el rendimiento de nuestro sitio web, así como para ofrecer publicidad relevante. Si continúas navegando por ese sitio web, aceptas el uso de cookies. Consulta nuestras Condiciones de uso y nuestra Política de privacidad para más información.
LinkedIn emplea cookies para mejorar la funcionalidad y el rendimiento de nuestro sitio web, así como para ofrecer publicidad relevante. Si continúas navegando por ese sitio web, aceptas el uso de cookies. Consulta nuestra Política de privacidad y nuestras Condiciones de uso para más información.
Amalgamated Marketing, an Independent Agency Network, would like to share with you our new whitepaper focusing on the top advice in selecting a new Marketing Agency.
Included in this whitepaper is a plethora of vital information about why you need a marketing agency, types of marketing agencies, the agency selection process, criteria for agency selection, and questions to ask during the selection process.
Amalgamated Marketing is a network of small, specialized marketing agencies, that serves two purposes: first to support clients that require marketing project recommendations, cost estimates and marketing implementation. Second to bring new business to qualified marketing agencies. The Amalgamated Marketing network is different than other agency networks by allowing only small, independent agencies to become members, and by providing coordination services without cost to qualified clients.
MARKETING AGENCY NETWORK
The Definitive Marketing Agency Selection Guide page: 2
The Definitive Marketing Agency Selection Guide
Selecting a new marketing, advertising, creative, promotion, public
relations, or internet agency is one of the most important decisions
a marketer will make, complicated by the fact that making the wrong
selection can be expensive, even career-jeopardizing, or that most
marketers have little or no experience with the process.
To assist, this Marketing Agency Selection Guide will first consider
some of the reasons for both hiring and firing an agency, followed
by detailed descriptions of 11 types of agencies, a 4-Step Agency
Selection Process, along with some additional resources on the subject.
Why You Need an Agency
Depending on internal staff resources, at some point your marketing
department may require the skills and expertise of a marketing agency.
Certainly start-ups and entrepreneurial companies typically cannot
maintain a staff of marketing specialists. In fact, the need for a qualified
agency may be more pronounced than ever with the marketing mix
evolving from traditional tactics like advertising and trade shows, to
more emphasis on rapidly changing Internet marketing, search engine
optimization (SEO) and social media.
And finally, a reason to hire a new agency is the need to replace an
existing agency. So let’s take a look at some of the reasons for both
firing and hiring a marketing agency.
Reasons for firing a marketing agency:
1) Agency advice is weak (marketing, strategy, creative)
2) Disputes about agency fees, or excessive charges
3) Lacking sales results, not achieving objectives
4) Agency is not in tune with new media (SEO, social, blogging, etc.)
5) Agency hired by prior manager/management team
6) Agency has conflicts, working with competitor brands
The Definitive Marketing Agency Selection Guide page: 3
Reasons for hiring a marketing agency:
1) Specialist needed for a specific marketing project or initiative
2) Get fresh ideas for marketing
3) Seek a new partner that can achieve more results
4) New managers/management not tied to old agency
5) Launching a new product
6) Entering new geographic markets
11 Types of Marketing Agencies
A company or brand in search of a marketing agency partner or
partners, must first understand the many different types of agencies.
Certainly the size of the program or project, category, geography
and budget will dictate the type or types of marketing agency partners
that can most effectively and efficiently serve the marketing requirements.
Typically, larger, or multinational companies will use multiple agencies,
while smaller clients tend to work with fewer, or even a single agency
for all marketing needs.
Following are 11 types of marketing agencies, listed by estimated
total dollar volume including advertising agencies, media agencies,
promotion agencies, PR agencies, marketing services agencies, inter-
net or digital agencies, direct agencies, branding agencies, design
agencies, social media agencies, and specialty agencies.
• Advertising Agency: the oldest and most common type of agency
is an advertising or ad agency; from Mad Men to the largest holding
companies and agency networks, ad agencies were the only
game in town until 1996 when the first web browser was launched.
The largest ad agencies and their advertising holding companies
diversified to offer all types of marketing; the most frequent division
was and still is media planning and buying services, but now include
every other functional discipline, from branding, to internet marketing.
No question, the core service from ad agencies remains advertising.
Large ad agencies dominate TV advertising—both creative and
media, along with all types of print (magazines, newspapers), radio,
outdoor, and Internet. Medium-size ad agencies may provide similar
services, but without the multinational offices, or multiple, functional
The Definitive Marketing Agency Selection Guide page: 4
divisions. Small ad agencies typically focus on print, but could do
radio and internet. Ad agencies tend to focus on retail and package
goods clients (business-to-consumer), but will also work with
business-to-business clients that require advertising, and/or have
significant marketing budgets.
• Media Planning/Buying Agency/Service: often part of an ad
agency, media agencies specialize in all aspects of strategy, research,
planning, buying, and placement of all types of media including TV,
newspaper, magazines, radio, outdoor, and online. Like other agency
types, media agencies often engage in other types of marketing,
most notably, advertising development and market research. Large
media agencies are critically important to large advertisers, due to
negotiation leverage and multi-national networks.
• Promotion Agency: the next largest portion of agencies are
promotional in focus, typically working with retail and package-goods
clients for promotional campaigns that include advertising, coupons,
sweepstakes, contests, loyalty programs, merchandising displays,
packaging and related; today many promotion agencies are hybrids
that will do all other types of marketing.
• Public Relations (PR) Agency: a variety of services encompass
publicity or public relations including media relations, investor
relations, and crisis communications. Traditional PR activities include
news announcements, article writing and placement, and press
conferences or events. PR firms often engage in event marketing,
new product launches, website development, social media, and
educational initiatives. Also, advertising or marketing agencies
often provide PR services.
• Marketing/Marketing Services Agency: as advertising has declined
in importance for all but the largest brands, many advertising agencies
have evolved into marketing or marketing services agencies, typically
providing a variety of services that could be offered by other specialist
agencies listed here. Often marketing/marketing services agencies
refer to themselves as full-service agencies and provide advertising,
PR, strategy and planning, direct, Internet, branding, photography
and video, and other types of marketing. Many small and mid-size
agencies refer to themselves as marketing agencies, not ad agencies.
The Definitive Marketing Agency Selection Guide page: 5
• Internet/Interactive/Digital Agency: with the growing importance
of Internet marketing, social media, e-commerce, content marketing
and related, one of the fastest-growing agency types describe
themselves as one or more variations of Internet/Interactive or
Digital agencies. Such agencies will design websites, social media
networks, manage blogs, and more. In addition, further specialization
is common with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agencies
or consultants, Paid Search or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising,
e-commerce, or applications (Apps).
• Direct Marketing Agency: direct marketing agencies started as
experts in direct mail, a tactic in decline, but have reinvented
themselves as experts in email, Internet marketing, customer
databases, analytics and more. Like other agency types, direct
marketing hybrid agencies are common.
• Branding/Identity Agency: branding or brand identity agencies
are often boutique agencies, or divisions of ad agency networks.
Branding agencies provide a range of services from logos, to brand
name development, to packaging, graphic identities, signage, and
environmental design (typically retail store design). Often branding
agencies will provide marketing research in support of brand strategy,
and may engage in web design, advertising, annual reports and more.
• Design Agency: often smaller agencies will position themselves as
design agencies or studios. Design agencies often perform a variety
of services including brand identity, website design, advertising,
packaging, brochures and all types of print collateral, and more.
Some studios will specialize in certain types of design, for example,
• Social Media Agency: one of the fastest growing agency specialties
is social media, or social media marketing. Social media agencies
specialize in creating and managing a brands social media networks.
Today, the top social media networks command most of the effort
including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, along with newer
networks like Pinterest and Instagram. Beyond profile design and
implementation, social media agencies often manage blogs, content
research and development, video, and increasingly web design, and
search engine optimization.
• Specialty Agencies: we group all other types of marketing agencies
as specialty agencies, that either focus on a functional marketing
discipline or niche market segment. Examples of functional
specialists include search optimization or paid search, packaging
The Definitive Marketing Agency Selection Guide page: 6
and merchandising, video, or brand name development. Market
or category specialists include different ethnic marketing agencies
(Hispanic, Asian, etc.), cause marketing, healthcare marketing,
and software marketing. The sponsor of this guide, Amalgamated
Marketing, is a network of specialty agencies.
A 4-Step Agency Selection Process
Now that you have an understanding of the reasons for needing a new
agency, along with the type of agency or agencies you might need, what
is the most effective and efficient process for selecting one or more?
As with all complex decisions, research and planning will improve
the chances of success. Also, you want to strike the right balance of
quantity of candidates and time commitments, as the process is surely
incremental to your day-to-day activities. Like dating, too many
candidates will be difficult to manage, while too few may not deliver
that perfect partner. Following are details of 4 steps including
planning, agency identification, agency vetting, and of course,
Before we get started, consider that you can outsource the entire
agency selection process to agency search consultants. However,
you should know that this option is typically only possible with large
clients and budgets due to the significant cost of such services.
Fees range from 1-5% of annual budgets, or a set fee. Beware of
search consultants that charge both the client and agencies, which
has been known to lead to conflicts, or lack of objectivity.
The agency review planning phase includes developing a
marketing brief and request for proposal (RFP), establishing
a budget, and establishing agency selection criteria.
The marketing brief (or a brief for a specific project, e.g., new website),
should include company or brand background information, goals or
objectives, description of the marketing program or project, calendar
deadlines for key milestones, and contact information. The level of
brief detail should be dictated by the anticipated scope and budget.
A small budget may require only a simple outline, while a multi-million
dollar budget may require a more formal brief complete with financials
and customer research.
The Definitive Marketing Agency Selection Guide page: 7
The request for proposal (RFP) portion will detail what is required from
agency candidates. RFPs of all sizes require general information about
the agency including client list, relevant work samples or case studies,
references, and biographies of key staff. Larger reviews might require
financial information. Finally, reviews might request specific recom-
mendations, or even creative concepts (with or without compensation).
Establishing the marketing budget is also part of the planning phase.
Budgets can be based on % of sales, task and objective, or other
methods. For more information on marketing budgeting, see the
resources section of this guide.
Next, identify agency selection criteria, along with an importance
rank or weighting. Examples of criteria include the following:
• Agency size: will your budget put you in the top 3 clients (to
• Category, market segment or product experience (minimize
learning curve, bring category insight)
• Experience in the required functional disciplines (e.g., advertis-
ing, website development, PR, etc.)
• Location: what is the expected frequency of face-to-face
meetings? (convenience, dealing with time zones, etc.)
• Agency self-promotion (e.g., website, messaging, thought
Step 2—Agency Identification
There are numerous options for identifying agency candidates. Selection
criteria established in Step 1 will help focus identification efforts. The
scope and budget of your marketing will dictate the number of agency
candidates identified. Before starting the research and identification
process, determine an approximate number of agency candidates to
be included on a “Long List”. Large clients (and budgets) might identify
10-30 agency candidates, while multinationals must identify candidates
in each region, Smaller clients typically consider 5-10 candidates.
The Definitive Marketing Agency Selection Guide page: 8
Now you are ready to research and identify candidates.
Following are sources of agencies:
• Search engine queries (e.g., search—ad agency Chicago)
• Association directories (AAAA, American Marketing Association
(AMA), Business Marketing Association (BMA), etc.)
• Networking through associations, conferences, and
industry events; smaller clients might find local chambers
of commerce useful
• Referrals from colleagues and advisors
Step 3—Vet Agency Candidates
Now that you have researched and identified multiple agency candidates,
the next step is to eliminate or vet candidates. The vetting stage
includes distributing a Brief/RFP to candidates, evaluating
submissions, and deciding on a “Short List” of candidates.
As before, the scope and budget of your marketing program or project
will dictate the number of candidates considered, and the formality
of the process. We recommend using the selection criteria developed
in Step 1 to prune the “Long List”, to a manageable “Medium List”.
Large clients typically employ a comprehensive brief and request for
proposal (RFP), but only after non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
are executed, as the brief likely discloses confidential information to
support recommendations or creative work. Small clients may simply
email the “Long List” of agency candidates, and request relevant case
studies, references, or a response confirming interest in participating
in an agency review.
As before, the scope of the program or project will determine how
submissions are evaluated. Large clients will typically appoint a
selection committee or team to manage the process. Small clients
with limited resources may use a single manager to decide on the
“Short List” of agency candidates. Sometimes phone interviews are
conducted at this stage. Also, scoring or grading worksheets are
sometimes employed at this time, especially when a committee is used.
The Definitive Marketing Agency Selection Guide page: 9
Whatever the process, the conclusion of this vetting stage, is the
“Short List” that will be invited to submit specific recommendations,
creative concepts, detailed budgets, and importantly, meet with you.
Be sure to communicate to “Long List” candidates that did not make
the cut via email, and of course the “Short List” winners that will be
invited to the final phase of selection.
Step 4—Agency Selection
We are finally ready to carefully evaluate and compare a “Short List”
of agency candidates. Depending upon whether recommendations or
creative work were requested in the previous phase, the final selection
process should include such recommendations and/or creative work,
and should absolutely include face-to-face meetings. We strongly
recommend that clients visit agency offices, to ensure “they are who
they say they are”, and also get a sense of the culture. Some other
tips for the selection phase:
• Request the team that will be working on your account be in
the presentation—get to know them ahead of time!
• Ask for typical fees or budget parameters for the types of mar-
keting projects and programs you will be assigning
• Ask for (and call) client references for projects or assignments
similar to yours
• Recruit a selection committee that, depending on program
scale, is at least 2 and no more than 5 managers; try to use
staff with marketing experience (not secretaries or _______)
• Use a scorecard or ranking of 5-10 criteria to add objectivity,
but also consider your “gut” instincts
• Score agency candidates individually and anonymously to
avoid a dominant personality imposing his or her will
• Openly discuss scoring results and reasoning
The Definitive Marketing Agency Selection Guide page: 10
This group meeting and process should deliver the clear winner.
However, if it’s down to two viable choices, invite them to duke it
out by executing the same test project. We recommend paying a
set fee for the test project. Then, evaluate the finalists based on
responsiveness, strategy and ideas, creative execution, project
management and budget.
Be sure to communicate with the losing candidates swiftly and
gratefully, and then break the good news to the winning agency.
Your search is over—let the success begin!
By now, you have experienced just how exhausting and time-consuming
the agency selection process is, but also, how exciting it is to find
the right agency partner that you will be spending much time with,
and realizing great successes.
With marketing changing so rapidly, and certainly becoming more
complex, there is a good chance that this agency process will need to
be replicated. With new digital channels, and the ability to measure
a variety of analytics, the need to hire agency specialists will likely
Still, effective agency selection remains both art and science, objective
and subjective, as skills like creativity and idea generation can be
difficult to assess; while managers may not have experience in new
types of marketing.
If you follow these 4 steps to agency selection, your likelihood of
achieving a successful outcome should be excellent.
Other great agency selection resources:
1. How to Choose an Advertising Agency (Inc. magazine)
2. What Matters Most When Selecting an Agency (Ad Age)
3. How to Select a New Ad Agency or Marketing Consultant
(Business Marketing Institute)
4. Nine Key Things to Look for in an Agency Partner
5. Marketing Budgeting Best Practices (Modern Marketing Partners)
The Definitive Marketing Agency Selection Guide page: 11
Amalgamated Marketing is a network of small, specialized marketing agencies,
that serves two purposes: first to support clients that require marketing
project recommendations, cost estimates and marketing implementation.
Second to bring new business to qualified marketing agencies. The
Amalgamated Marketing network is different than other agency networks
by allowing only small, independent agencies to become members, and by
providing coordination services without cost to qualified clients.
Amalgamated Marketing serves a real need for specialized marketing services,
both functional disciplines and vertical market expertise. As marketing has
changed rapidly in the past few years, traditional agencies often cannot
support the multitude of marketing services required by clients, while small
and specialized marketing service providers often do not have the ability to
reach clients on a broader scale.
Amalgamated Marketing addresses these dynamics with a streamlined and
confidential process for clients and agencies. Clients simply complete a
brief survey and receive marketing project recommendations and estimates.
Amalgamated Marketing supports over fifty (50) marketing services, from
advertising to website development, along with numerous vertical markets.
For a complete list of services, link here. Amalgamated Marketing will add
new services upon request. For more information, contact Neil Brown at
630-868-5061, or visit www.AmalgamatedMarketing.com.