Playing the Agency Search Consultant Game

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As a smaller agency, I've long felt the disrespect accorded to us by many search consultants. Typical comments we've heard: "We only consider agencies above $100 million;" "You have been selected to fill out an RFI... if you do really well, you'll earn the right to fill out an RFP." And "...tell us how much you pay your team, and we'll tell you how to charge us."
Marc Brownstein
Marc Brownstein

Gee. Thanks for the privilege.

The good news is that there are a few search consultants out there who get it. We're currently working with one in a review and the process has been smart, respectful of our time and resources, and less interrogative.

Win or lose the pitch (we'll know soon), I want the search consultant to get some exposure, because they deserve it. The firm is called: Strum Consulting, located in Vorhees, NJ. Here's a snap-shot of their typical review process:

1. Pre-screen agencies by phone, reputation and web site.

2. Invite a small group (3-4) of agencies to pitch. Pay them a modest fee for participating.

3. Don't waste their time with spec creative. Just strategy.

4. Host a client briefing for all agencies (admittedly a little awkward, but efficient for the client), that includes the CEO's active participation.

5. Agency tour and lunch with client as a chemistry check.

6. Presentation to client, with the promise of a quick decision.

The whole review is completed in 3O days.

Refreshing process, eh? My team is actually energized by it. And I hope that Lonny Strum, the search consultant's principal, gets lots of business from us smaller-to-midsize agencies, as a result of this exposure. Lonny's an ex-agency guy who cuts through the nonsense and gets to the substance.

He's got my vote for the Search Consultant's Hall of Fame.

P.S. I recognize that some of you may consider my comments a shamelss plug for Strum to tilt the playing field; fact is, while Strum certainly deserves the plug, the client does all of the voting.
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