cultivating relationships
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6. Clarity and fairness is the price of admission.

The review consultant is part leader, part judge and part ringmaster. These roles require the consultant to be honest and straightforward with all parties concerned. This can mean telling a client, "No, we cannot do that to agencies." At other times it can mean engaging in a candid discussion with the competing agencies. No one intends to cheat the process, but without diligent and honest communication it can happen. To ensure a high-quality outcome, a disciplined approach to the review process, balanced by openness between the client and the agency candidates, is important at all times.

7. "Make work" slows everything down and costs you time and money.

A normal review should take no more than thirteen weeks. It can go even faster if the client is willing to commit to a more aggressive schedule. To stay on the timetable, clients and agency candidates should only use this time to focus on chemistry, creative thinking and compensation. Our timeframe gives agencies adequate time to prepare their presentations and gives clients the essential information they need to make their decisions. Rarely do qualities like agency billings, head count or the year the agency was founded play an important role during the review, which is why we only ask for information that is critical to the selection process. We believe simple yet pointed questions asked during the Prescreen Briefing are sufficient for to determine which agencies should be considered for the initial RFP.

8. The consultant's accountability should extend beyond the final presentation.

If the agency and client part ways less than a year after beginning their partnership, there are three people to blame: the client, the agency and the consultant. In the unlikely event this outcome occurs following a review we will determine what went wrong and conduct a new review free of charge. Why? Because if a match fails, the review consultant somewhere along the line did not anticipate potential issues and advise the client properly. Of course mistakes can happen and situations can develop that are outside everyone's control. But we believe that review consultants should not benefit economically if another review becomes necessary within a year. We also believe that our experience, knowledge and way of working with clients and agencies is superior to all other review processes and we are willing to back up that claim.

9. The client, not the agency, is the client.

While it sounds like what Yogi Berra might say, it’s an uncomfortable truth: Review consultants can be a little too chummy with agencies. It is widely known that certain agencies have an advantage when certain consultants conduct their reviews and some review consultants actually spend more time meeting, entertaining and doing work for an agency's new business department than they do with the clients themselves. Review consultants must avoid a conflict of interests with agencies by maintaining a clear, arms-length relationship at all times. A review consultant’s priority is the client’s satisfaction and interaction with agencies should be purely professional and beyond reproach.

10. Agency capabilities, case histories and creative reels are not an indication of what an agency can do for you.

It's fun to watch TV commercials or to hear how an agency solved somebody else's problems. But this information is not what the client truly needs nor is it a guarantee that the same solution or thinking will work for a different brand. Every assignment and every brand has its own unique requirements. Therefore it is a much better use of everyone’s time to focus on the client’s particular needs and to ask the agencies what can be done to move a specific brand forward.