Are you getting the most out of your agency?

Isn’t it time you found out? Then ask yourself these important questions: Are you confident you have the best agency for your current and future needs? Are there incentives in place to encourage outstanding agency performance and program results? And, most importantly, are you overcompensating your agencies?

Since 1998, more than 200 of the world’s most successful organizations have reached out to us to get the answers. Many have become our clients and built stronger agency partnerships by tying compensation to outstanding agency performance and measurable program results. But agency compensation is only one area where we can help. We provide a menu of market proven, cost saving and relationship building services for advertisers.

Agency Search & Selection

If you’re considering an agency search our experience, contacts and comprehensive agency data base ensure that we can identify all appropriate candidates who meet your selection criteria, thoroughly vet all candidates to determine the strongest matches, and then manage the entire agency selection process. We’ve done it successfully for more than 100 major advertisers since 2005. We’ll help you find the best agency partner that meets your unique requirements, is fully committed to the relationship and can hit the ground running. An important evaluation tool we use to make this happen is our proprietary database of more than 400 diverse agencies’ cost and profit structures to help guide you in determining the appropriate agency staffing levels and acceptable agency cost and profit levels for your business. Our unique and comprehensive database includes:

  • Billable agency hourly rates by title, function and department;
  • Salary levels by agency size, title, department and geography;
  • Overhead load factors and ranges of acceptability,
  • Staffing levels by size, type of client and billings level;
  • Agency profit targets and acceptable margins;
  • Proven, quantitative performance criteria that ensure agency accountability and program results

But that’s not all. We have operating cost data on 600+ agencies throughout the world. And, are plugged in to the latest agency trends in media, social media, digital, etc. So we know who’s hot, and who’s not. Our up-to-the-minute market insights are invaluable in helping you find the ideal agency partner—one who has both the desire and the capability to infuse new life into your brand, revitalize sales and build market share. Here are the agency search tasks that we’re uniquely qualified to perform:

  • Set up the search apparatus (confirm with client’s agency search and selection committee members)
  • Establish in-depth agency selection criteria/client expectations—making sure all candidates are culturally compatible and fully capable of meeting all of your specific needs
  • Access Potomac’s proprietary data base of client/agency matchups to identify and screen the best possible agencies
  • Develop and distribute the RFP and evaluate agency responses
  • Schedule/structure candidate agency site visits (in person or virtual) to narrow the list of candidates
  • Develop “scoring systems” to evaluate agencies on a number of issues and to minimize subjectivity in the decision-making process
  • Structure relevant candidate “assignments” to engage agencies’ creative and strategic thought processes to ensure that the best agency is ultimately selected
  • Develop agency startup plans to include specific agency working and billing procedures
  • Incorporate into the relationship attainable and measurable ad program and business results
  • Finalize compensation method(s) and level
  • Develop the Agency Contract and Scope of Work
  • Finalize/negotiate the Agency Contract and Scope of Work

Agency Compensation & SOW Reviews

It’s important to know how much profit your agency is making on your business. Because if you’re paying too much you are diluting the effectiveness of your communications programs. If you are, you’re certainly not alone. We’ll show you how to find out by:

  • Determining the agency’s profitability on your account and comparing it to ad industry and Potomac “norms”
  • Comparing your agency’s operating costs to other clients in our proprietary database (250+ agencies)
  • Reviewing current SOW and agency staffing to ensure the level of senior management commitment you deserve
  • Identifying opportunities for cost-saving agency operating efficiencies on your business
  • Developing program-specific and agency-specific performance metrics and securing agency buy-in
  • Determining the optimum agency compensation level/method and securing agency agreement
  • Negotiating a new agreement with the agency (if client prefers)

Agency Contract Reviews/Recommendations

Many clients of advertising, branding, digital, direct marketing and media agencies have current contracts without safeguards to minimize potential corporate liability, ensure agency performance and secure intellectual property ownership. We’ll provide specific language and provisions for:

  • Agency operating cost and profitability targets
  • Formal agency reviews—operating performance and financial performance vs. plan
  • Agency transparency—monthly staffing and financial reporting; invoicing procedures; 3rd party relationships and billing, etc.
  • Clearly define materials and ideas ownership
  • Establish limits on client liability
  • Copyright infringement
  • Contractor relationship ties
  • Confidentiality and use of the client’s name
  • Conflict of interest
  • Termination procedures (client and agency responsibilities)

360o Agency Performance Evaluations

We’ll help you structure a performance evaluation process that satisfies your corporate needs while being fair to your agency. And share successful results we’ve achieved with other clients on how to improve:

  • Individual and joint working relationships
  • The two-way flow of information
  • Bottlenecks and misunderstandings
  • Financial dealings with the agency
  • Client expectations vs. agency performance
  • Compensation and performance guidelines
  • Action Plans for agency improvement going forward

Our unique approach is designed to ensure that the client/agency relationship is as strong as it can be. And that both parties have a clear understanding of each other’s expectations. The processes that we design and manage have one overriding goal: to further improve the relationship by moving both parties closer to a marketing partnership for results.

Agency Consolidation

Most organizations with multiple agencies can save money, improve operating efficiencies and consistency of messaging by reducing the number of agencies. To help ensure a successful process, we’ll help develop:

  • Specific opportunities for synergism
    • Analyze current agencies and their assignments
    • Assess current agency levels of commitment/costs/profits
    • Recommend the best approach to ensure improved agency efficiencies, reduced operating costs and even more effective messaging
  • Agency realignment criteria
    • Corporate cultures
    • Size, capabilities and experience
    • Current performance levels
    • Strategic issues
    • Creative issues
    • Financial issues
  • Agency performance measurement criteria expectations and procedures (both quantitative and qualitative)
  • Final compensation discussions and agreements
  • Agency contracts