Dawn Severn, events manager at AXA Insurance and Rachel Hobson, head of events for BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, spoke at C&IT's Agency Forum about what they look for in an agency.
Debunking the myth that large corporate companies always choose a larger agency, Severn says it’s the relationships not the size of the organisation that count. "I work with one supplier who’s a two-man-band. Just because we’re a big organisation, doesn’t necessarily mean we need a huge agency."
For Hobson, larger agencies can even be off-putting. "It can be harder to develop relationships with people in larger agencies," she explains. "And really, relationships are the key to working together."
Whilst both Hobson and Severn admitted the ‘hard sell’ can be a turn-off, they agreed that persistence pays when it comes to building good foundations. "I’ve worked with agencies who really try to build relationships," says Severn. "For example, one agency put me on a mailing list. They sent me so much information on new venues which was so helpful." Hobson also agreed in the importance of relevant pitching and relationship building, adding that "agencies have to understand what we want and what we do."
"I think event agencies need to focus more on venue finding," said Severn. "I know how to plan events but advice on what venues can offer is crucial to me." She added that the key was in ‘the detail’, with event planners needing to offer advanced solutions in terms of venue finding.
Both Severn and Hobson agreed that specific knowledge on their industry sector was not essential when assessing potential new agencies. Severn said: "Sector experience is not that important to me, in fact it's good to work with different agencies to companies in your sector otherwise there's a risk all your events could look the same. There's also the issue of conflict if you work with an agency that has another similar client on their books."
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