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The Holiday Season is a Bad Time to Find a Great Agency

By Jeff Rosenblum for BrandStorytelling

It’s not only the holiday season. It’s also the season many brands seek out new agencies. And I’m here to tell you that this is a really bad time to find a great agency.

Almost every year, agencies around the world get RFP's right around Thanksgiving that require the first round of submissions due the day before Winter Holiday break, and the final presentation the week after New Year’s Day. At face value, it seems like fair timing—that’s over two weeks for both the initial RFP response and the final presentation.

The problem with this timing is that great agencies have an unwavering focus on empowering their teams. They are already in “all hands on deck” mode, supporting their clients with the holiday rush and end-of-year requirements for budgets and deliverables. No great agency has extra time on their hands in December, and no great agency is going to distract itself from its clients' urgent needs simply so they can bring in a new client.

That just covers the early December weeks. The next component is the work required over the holiday break. A good pitch requires original creative, original research, original strategic thinking, and original storytelling. This could add up to hundreds of hours collectively. It’s fun and exciting. It’s one of the reasons we all got into this industry.

But timing is everything. Great agencies have great team members who deserve a great holiday break. They crank all year long, including early mornings, late nights, and weekends, to do whatever it takes to succeed for clients. This isn’t a complaint. It’s a privilege. Great agencies are filled with people who absolutely love being in the service business and thrive off going the extra mile. The holidays are a crucial time to recharge the batteries for another year of going to battle on behalf of clients.

It's certainly appealing to head into a new year with the opportunity to pitch for a cool brand, but what does it say to team members when agencies don't let them take their well-earned vacations? What does it say to their families when teammates can’t spend quality time over the holidays after a year of relentless hard work and determination? What does it say when agencies ask their team to get distracted from current clients to focus on winning new clients?

Those of us on the agency side fully understand and respect the desire to dive into a new year with a new agency partner and the hope of taking the brand to a new level. But great agencies are going to pass on mistimed RFP’s, no matter how compelling they appear. Great agencies have great cultures, ones with an unfaltering commitment to drive results for their current clients and provide a safe, empowering environment that enables the team to do their absolute best work.

Relationships between great brands and great agencies last for years. The best relationships last for decades. Yes, you can find dozens of agencies willing to work on pitches in December and even over the holidays. But your brand doesn’t need any new agency. It needs a great agency. And that’s worth waiting for the right moment. The holidays are a bad time to find a great agency.

"The holidays are a crucial time to recharge the batteries for another year of going to battle on behalf of clients."

- Jeff Rosenblum

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