Pete VonDerLinn, Executive Creative Director
The majority of CMOs feel ad agencies are interchangeable.
Other than some rare exceptions, they’re right.
Okay, maybe that admission isn’t entirely shocking, but let’s be honest. Most agencies provide the same services, with pretty much the same talent at mostly the same cost – especially as more and more vertical shops go back to being integrated agencies.
So, if you’re in the process of choosing a creative agency or agencies to support your brand and business, how do you choose with total confidence?
Wait, did he just say total confidence?
Yup. It’s possible. Here’s the secret:
Begin your agency search using the Effie Awards – the world’s preeminent judge of marketing effectiveness – to zero in on award-winning shops that will not only deliver creativity, but creativity proven to drive big results. (And if you’re still not convinced that creativity directly causes, not correlates to, ROI, read this.)
Here’s why it works:
- Marketers like you judge the work. Esteemed Effie Award judges represent both the client- and agency-sides of the equation, so all marketing points of view are represented. It’s not just agency folks worshipping their own creations.
- Earning an Effie Award is extremely difficult. The judging process is no joke. Each entry is reviewed confidentially by multiple judges in multiple rounds, with 70 percent of the score coming from the strategic challenge, objectives, insight, idea and solution, and a whopping 30 percent coming from results. If an entry survives the gauntlet of smart, seasoned, keenly creative and hypercompetitive Effie Award judges who’ve seen it all, that creative agency really earned that trophy.
- Searching within an exclusive universe of Effie-earning agencies saves you wasting time and money on agencies that won’t deliver the goods. Some sources estimate there are now roughly 70,000 agencies in the U.S. You can (and should) narrow it down by category experience, geography, culture and other critical factors of fit, but none of that helps if you don’t know how effective they are. Your bosses and board will probably agree with us.
Now, how do you do it?
- Focus your search. Go ahead and Google “ad agency” AND “cheese.” You’ll get 250,000 search results. Now search for “ad agency” AND “cheese” AND “Effie.” You’ve just eliminated 237,500 results, narrowing your focus by 95 percent. Effie-winning agencies that have experience in your category will rise to the top.
- Use the Effie Effectiveness Index. Effie Worldwide maintains a searchable global index of the most effective agencies, marketers, brands and networks, ranked by the number of Effie-winning and finalist entries as well as the level of award won.
- In your next RFP, ask about Effies. CMOs are recognizing the power of the Effie Awards and requesting agencies indicate in their RFP submissions any Effie Awards won. Think that super-trendy creative shop has what it takes? Don’t just trust the crafted case studies; see if they’ve proven it with an objective third party.
- Make sure the shop you’re selecting isn’t a one-Effie pony. Search for an agency that has an Effie culture. One that approaches every campaign with what Effie holds in the highest esteem: clear objectives, a brilliant insight, powerful creative, and measurable results that prove the campaign delivered on the stated objectives.
Selecting a new agency doesn’t have to be daunting, draining and difficult. If you start in the right place, it can be highly rewarding. I hope this helps you run your next agency search with a high probability of finding the right results-driven partner. As always, questions, thoughts, or challenges welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.