Perception May Not Always Be Reality

November 23rd, 2010

If you have driven a car in the United States or Canada, chances are you have seen the safety disclaimer etched in the vehicle’s side view mirrors – “objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”  The same can be said for selecting a marketing firm, creative shop, PR agency or any other professional service organization.

Recently, a prospect decided to go ahead and engage a “larger” agency.  The rationale for choosing them was bright lights, big city and of course their experience and connections.  But once the account team was assembled, it was clear a lot of time and money was going to be squandered.  The company decided to pivot and call us back.

While this is a happy beginning for us, the story illustrates a larger point.

There are so many variables that go into deciding which firm is right for you.  Aside from expertise, track record, experience, philosophy, media contacts, process, industry connections, budget and a slew of other criteria, the most important intangible (often overlooked) is the people supporting the project:

  • Do they share the urgency of your go-to-market strategy?
  • Are they passionate about your business?
  • Will they be there for you (after hours or even on weekends) when an idea pops up, or more importantly, if an issue materializes?
  • Do you have chemistry with them?

Sure, budget and reputation tend to dictate the decision process, but these don’t matter if the wrong personnel are servicing your account.

The old adage, no one ever got fired for buying IBM, can be the kiss of death for most companies, especially entrepreneurs and start-ups that have limited resources and an even shorter “launch” window.  While the knee-jerk reaction is to defer to the larger agencies, be sure to peel back the onion and take a closer look at who is going to work your account.

I think cartoonist Hugh MacLeod nails it in an illustration he did for Shit Creek Consulting.

What criterion is important to you?

Domenick Cilea

Domenick founded Springboard in 1995. When he is not working on marketing, PR, branding or content strategy, Domenick can be found in a gym, on the road or pool training to survive his next triathlon.

Read More Posts by Domenick Cilea