Best Practice Guidelines for Agency Search Consultants | Marketing Maestros | Blogs | ANA

Best Practice Guidelines for Agency Search Consultants

August 11, 2020

By Bill Duggan

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The ANA has partnered with the 4A’s to develop best practice guidelines for agency search consultants. These guidelines are intended to align the interests of marketers and agencies around agency searches and make the process clear and beneficial for all parties.

Agency search consultants can provide a valuable service to marketers and agencies by running a well-structured agency review. The 4A’s and the ANA both respect the very important role that search consultants provide. I know many of the industry’s search consultants. Some even have business relationships with the ANA; for example, serving on the faculty of the ANA Marketing Training & Development Center, as resources on important ANA research such as agency compensation, and subject matter experts for our committees and Marketing Knowledge Center.

The “Best Practice Guidelines for Agency Search Consultants” (ten total) cover areas including:

  • Clarity of agency search consultant compensation practices
  • Fair consideration of agencies without regard to the financial interests of a search consultant
  • Material requested should be relevant to the specific search
  • Agency search consultant public comments regarding agencies and searches

It’s critical that marketers recognize the important role they play in the process, and the guidelines also provide some specific best practices for them:

  • At the beginning of the agency search process, the marketer should provide the agency search consultant with a clearly defined scope, outlining the marketer’s expectations, the roles and responsibilities of the search consultant, and criteria for success.
  • It should be up to the marketer to establish whether the consultant they are considering can bring the proper objectivity to the party.
  • All parties in the agency search process — marketer, agency, and search consultant — should be asked to sign off on the confidentiality of information provided by any of the parties.
  • Marketers should provide timely feedback to every agency that participates in the review process. Prompt notification to the winning agency and feedback to the agencies that do not secure the business is sound business practice. For the agencies that do not win, feedback is critical as they look to improve their pitching capability and is appropriate, given the time and effort expended during the review process.

These guidelines have been sent to the search consultant community (a group of more than 20) by the 4A’s. 4A’s is asking the respective consultants to verify that they have read it and will abide by the practices within it. Thanks to the 4A’s for their collaboration on this initiative.

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