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In response to your editorial on guidelines of the 4A’s [From the Editor, Oct. 13], the viability of new-business consultants as players in agency-client relationships is indeed a reality. The truth is, we would not exist (or be growing in numbers) if we were extraneous. We meet a real client need to help time- and resource-constrained marketers navigate a maze of confusing choices in the agency-selection marketplace.
All parties have responsibilities in this process that are not addressed in the recently published guidelines by the 4A’s. Clients would be better served by asking consultants more critical questions, such as: What qualifies you as an expert in reviewing agency resources (beyond a tenure in the agency business prior to retirement)? What are the proprietary methodologies and tools you employ to assist us in decision making (beyond your subjective experiences with specific agencies)? What is your track record in assisting clients in finding appropriate agency partners whose relationships have stood the test of time? What is the opinion of agency directors who have participated in a review sponsored by your firm, win or lose? Do you have a statement of ethics or business practices that guides your firm? Answers to these questions will provide greater insight into a consultant’s credibility and effectiveness.
Agencies also have a responsibility to resist the new-business siren’s call every time they hear of an account in play, read an article or receive a request for proposal. It is their choice not to respond to information requests. Agencies should have tightly defined new-business criteria derived from their well-understood competencies and skill sets. They should be proactively developing new-business prospects that fit their own criteria. Completing an RFP and competing for new business is easy if, fundamentally, an agency is qualified and fits the selection criteria. It is infinitely more complicated and less efficient if one has to invent a story to tell.
Agencies have the right to know the answer to the following questions from consultants who contact them: Who is the prospective client? What is the revenue opportunity associated with the business? What is the selection criteria, and who will be responsible for making the decision within a given time frame? If answers to these queries are not provided, agency directors could not possibly make an intelligent decision as to whether to invest their resources in participating. What they need is the backbone to know when to decline.
Lorraine Rojek
Rojek Marketing Group, Cleveland

For the Record
In Fourth Estate [Adweek, Oct. 27], we omitted columnist Jill Brooke’s photo, inadvertently running another writer’s picture in her place . . . The colors were reversed in the key of a chart in Takes [Oct. 13]. Thus, the percentages given for company founders were actually for corporate executives, and vice versa . . . Red Wing Shoes’ Paula Storti should have been listed as advertising director of Red Wing’s “Thunder” ad in Best Spots [Oct. 13].

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