How NOT To Find A Marketing Agency

Marketing, Startup Comments (1)

The other day I was scrolling through LinkedIn and came across this request for agencies to pitch:

Now I am certainly not having a go at Steve, but this request brings up several themes rife in today’s marketing industry. So let’s take a few minutes to pull apart the request and see what we can learn from it:


1. “Hi there Marketing people, I am looking for 3 agencies to Pitch or help for my new project The Great British Larder.”


  • He mentions the brand, which makes it alot easier for us marketers to do some quick research and decide if this is a brand we can help.


  • He mentions wanting 3 agencies. Why 3? Why agencies and not consultants or freelancers if you are a small brand or startup?
  • He doesn’t specify what areas of marketing he is looking for help with. This means he gets a ton of people from different marketing backgrounds (mainly digital) commenting.
  • He mentions a pitch at this early stage. Why not ask for recommendations. Have a call then go from there. Marketers dont want to put themselves forward to pitch until they know what the prize is.
  • A wise move might have been to ask for those in the food industry to recommend a marketing agency or consultant?


2. “We are about to start our first stage of investment and we need to get 3 quotes and a simple strategy.”


  • Yay, a startup getting investment.


  • Boo, a startup currently without guaranteed investment.
  • Investment stages and timescales can be very long so they may not have money to afford media spend and your fees anytime soon.
  • Why does it sound like it is the investors driving this decision/ pitch and not the business owner?
  • Do you mean 3 separate quotes from each of the 3 agencies? If so, that’s mental. Otherwise why 3? So you can pick the middle one that isn’t too hot or too cold, financially speaking?
  • “We need a simple strategy” reads like “we want some free initial work before you get to the paid work”.


3. “Obviously, the agency that wins the pitch will be put forward to the investors to complete the work.”


  • So all you have to do is submit a highly considered proposal or pitch deck, fight off the two other competitors and then get the project past the investors before you get any money.


  • So there is no guarantee that the winning agency will get any work from it?
  • So I have to please the client and have to please the investors (the real decision makers) whose money I am directly pitching. Tough gig…


4. “It’s a really nice project with a unique offering and product ahead of the looming Brexit.”


  • Apparently, it’s a nice project so that’s positive.


  • “unique offering” read new brand in niche market so tough gig.
  • Huh? Brexit? What has that got to do with it?


5. “I would like to have a small, medium and larger agency to pitch. Can anyone throw his or her hat in the ring?”


  • Yay. He IS open to working with both male and female marketers or agency owners/staff.


  • He is using agency size as a segmenting factor. So he has no idea what he is looking for and couldn’t possibly have 2 decent medium agencies pitch? Or 3 small agencies?
  • Big put off for me (if I was an agency) as this will lead to every agency in the pitch competing against businesses that do not sit on the same level. Comparing apples to pears.


6. “or recommend a great team.”


  • He is wisely asking for people to recommend and vouch for those they have worked with or deem worthy of the job


  • Nothing on this one. We’re all good.


7. “They need to be very forward thinking and love to stir things up a little.”


  • He doesn’t want some backwards mundane agency.


  • He is trying to kiss your arse. Don’t buy it folks. He might as well say “We want an agency who considers themselves great.”


8. “I don’t want an out of the box strategy that’s just got our logo copy and pasted from the last job.”


  • He recognises that some simply copy and page proposal documents and send them off. want some backwards mundane agency.


  • Based on a quick scoot through some of the responses, it doesn’t look like this comment has put of those likely to give him just that.
  • He mentions “simple strategy” but then doesn’t want people to cut corners. You can’t have something for nothing sir.


There is no doubt that this kind of request gets responses on LinkedIn. You can see over 300 comments and 200 Likes on the post. But that is no signal of the quality of request. It is more evidence of the desperate “We will take anything we can get” attitude within marketing. I feel that if Steve, and others like him, really think through their requests, they can cherry pick from relevant high calibre options, instead of wading through sh*t.

Some of the below comments particularly tickled me:


You had me at “Best Friend”. The fact your email address contains “sincere” was the final convincer. Take my money.


He is a small brand so how does the fact you work with “big brands” help at all?


Seriously? Firstly, what kind of agency name is “Wings Brand activation Pvt Ltd”? Secondly, do you think the fact you have too many clients across too many countries makes you right for this?


Sorry. What?


If you would like to pitch for the project or simply read some of the comments, the live post is here (you’ll need to be signed in):


Have any further advice for those looking for marketing help? Stick them in the comments.

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On July 14, 2018