Cut the crap in the ad agency search business

Ugh. Times are tight. But Good God. What the hell is happening out  here?!

What makes me ask is a story that just ran in Ad Age, talking about yet more seasoned agency experts getting into the search business. Nothing wrong with that. But they crap all over the competitors to get there.

To be clear, I’m all for differentiation. We need…

more of it in the proverbial sea of sameness in our business. If you have a different perspective or way of delivering a service that is demonstrably better, great. Have at it. And when you read the story, there’s actually some pretty smart stuff this new firm, Drexler Fajen & Partners, will be doing. Things that all search consultants should be looking at; there are many problems with the traditional consultant-led search. Everyone else is changing their tune a bit. Why not searchers, too?

But there’s a wrong way and a right way to tell that story.

What struck me about it was the tone. This negative approach might get an eyeball or two on you. But this will not help you get business from your agency and consultant peers. And trust me when I say this – coming from a man who gets 75% of his business from referral or return sources – being too negative doesn’t help the cause.

Perhaps yours truly is ill informed. Maybe Ad Age screwed the pooch a bit and didn’t accurately reflect what happened in the interview. While the story gets multiple perspectives, it does seem to lead with drama. I don’t know. But do know that if I were a consultant looking for revenue from Clients (not Agencies), Ad Age wouldn’t be at the top of my list to get my story out.

Sure, there are some ugly search consultants out there.

But there are a lot of good ones out there, too. Hardworking, competent people that do their clients right and who continue to get hired time and time again.

The point? Well, not much of one here, gentle reader. If anything, and I hate to even suggest it, is that I can only hope that being a nice guy should NOT be a competitive advantage as a new business consultant! Please note I’m being specific to consultants. There are a few of you that will be reading this. And you’re very nice. (No doubt in part due to your excellent taste in new business blogs!)

Also, I guess, another thing to think about is that being different can get press. But how it is done is key.

(Apologies for the rant. Expect a relevant, more helpful bit here. It’s about how agencies can be nicer neighbors.)

This might also be a big yawn for most. Particularly for Mr. Pink fans. And, honestly, reading the story, now in the bitter cold of this morning, maybe this story isn’t so bad.

Yet I still feel there are better, more graceful ways to point out differences and bring news to the search process. The mic is now yours. Thanks.