Going For The Gold

Sydney-2000_Olympic_Medal_PodiumThere’s been a lot of talk in Chicago (our town) about the Olympics these past months, weeks and days.  And now that the buzz and excitement has dulled to a quiet mumble (for obvious reasons), it let me to ponder:  If you were evaluating your agency the way the Games decides winners and those just a step behind, how do they rate?

Gold – Agency offers and applies well-constructed, strategic planning to your product or service offering; there is a solid mix of senior account people and supporting writers and peripheral talent; they possess a good working knowledge of your markets, customers, sales channels and nuances that go into moving your products; they regularly prepare and present creative, actionable, big ideas that apply to your business, as well as your bottom line; and, the agency regularly stops to assess what is working, and what is not.

Silver – Agency offers good, applicable plans to your products and services; has senior talent available to your account, but their presence is more ceremonial in nature; they have a basic understanding of your markets, but still ask more questions than you care to answer; they present good ideas, some of which might work, but they are not backed by strategy or a focus on the bigger picture that is your company’s performance; and, their measurement is adequate, but not easy to understand.

Bronze – Agency offers good, basic planning, based more on what they have done in the past than what you are trying to do in the future; there is a good mix of people on the account, but you haven’t seen the senior-most folks since the original pitch; they possess a basic understanding of your markets, but really have no true “feel” for how to reach prospects and customers; they present cookie-cutter programs that may or may not suit your specific needs; and, the measurement they present is defensive and vague.

And here’s a tongue-in-cheek aside:  if your senior-most agency people have a MapQuest page peeking out of their briefcase, you might ask to see them a bit more often ….

There is something to be said for thinking, analysis, experience, big, actionable ideas and measurement that makes sense to all involved, and holds both parties accountable for their end of the bargain.

As you apply the above template to your agency, what medal would you give them?  Are they even on the podium?