Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a a healthy, peaceful and prosperous year ahead!

May 2017 be overflowing with new positive experiences, exciting opportunities, fulfilled goals, dreams and everything that makes you happy.

Michele Harris

Friday, February 12, 2016

Article Featured in MediaPost

Article "How to Find an Agency You'll Love" featured in MediaPost's Agency Daily:

RPFs Suck - How to Find an Agency You'll Love

An RFP (Request for Proposal) may often be referred to as a "Recipe for Pain". They make a search for a marketing agency a "commodity" exercise at the best, and a complete waste of time at the worst - for both client and agency.

Sure, you can throw a rock and practically hit a PR, digital, creative or any kind of marketing agency. Finding the right one perfectly suited to your situation? That's an entirely different matter.

Most companies start off by developing an RFP and sending it out to a long list of agencies. They are often surprised by a lackluster response. Perplexing?

It's similar to the dating scene. Your company may be the belle of the ball and quite the "catch" for any agency. But jumping up on the table announcing availability is not the best way to find that special partner. When you send out an RFP, you've just jumped on the table.

It takes an enormous amount of work to properly respond to an RFP, which are often perceived by agencies as a "cattle call". Successful agencies with limited resources need to be selective about whom to pitch and consider their chances of success.

There's a ton of questions around the reason for the pitch and how the decision will be based that go into the process. Many agencies can be easily eliminated - or better ones identified - without wasting everyone's time.

If you are thinking about hiring an agency, consider the following best practices:


* Wait till you're ready to hire.
Things change and focus shifts over time, not least of which budgets. Get management team buy-in, agree on a scope of work and budget range and allocate the time and resources needed.

* Meet before asking for a proposal: Give the agency the opportunity to ask questions and determine if it's a relationship that's a good fit for them and you will receive a much more enthusiastic and thoughtful response.

* Keep the RFP short and savvy. Brief the agency and give them enough information to properly respond. Include the situation and reason for the pitch, expectations, criteria set and how a decision will be made.


* Be seduced by the "hottest" or "top ranked" agencies.
It's easy to get sold on - and then lost in - a big shop. Get an idea of the size and scope of the agency's clients and look for comparable examples of success.

* Assume a full-service agency is best suited for your needs. Look for core competencies. Specialty firms can offer expertise and value.

* Blindly issue an RFP to a long list. Do your due diligence or hire a consultant to help you develop the right short-list. Only issue an RFP to agencies you've met, felt a fit and would consider hiring.

It all comes down to the right agency shortlist. Sure, everyone has a network. The agencies you know may be very impressive, but are not necessarily ideally suited for your needs right now.

Save your team valuable time and headaches and do the research, or work with a search consultancy such as Smarti to get the right agency selection.

Visit to discover the Smarti way to find an agency you'll love for the long-term.

If you've decided it's time to find a new marketing partner, I'm here to expertly help you find your "marketing match".

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Is Your New Business Pitch Working? - Tips for Agencies

As an agency leader, you own the message that goes out to prospects and the marketplace. If you're using the same pitch for the past few years, it may be worth revisiting it. The agency landscape is constantly changing.

Do you win the majority of pitches you pursue? Do you get feedback on the pitches that don't close and know exactly what happened? Do you know how your competitors are pitching?

Very few businesses can claim that their new business pitches are working perfectly. Most agencies do not get productive feedback. Chances are you're operating in a vacuum.

I'm always amazed how differences in presentation content, delivery and style can affect the energy level in the room and make or break a meeting. A presentation, such as PowerPoint or Keynote, is one of the most poorly utilized tools in a marketer's arsenal.

Here's a few Smarti tips:


* Hand your audience the presentation in advance. There's a natural temptation to flip through and read ahead; they will not be focused on what you are saying.

* Treat a presentation deck like a read-along. Your audience can read and doesn't need you to do it for them. Use the bullets as a guide to make a bigger point.

One cannot actively read and listen simultaneously; visual cues take priority.


* Utilize slides for relevant pictures, screen shots, dramatic visuals and examples that highlight and add color to the discussion.

* Pump up your presentation skills. Learn how to hold your audience's attention.

Your best asset in a presentation is YOU.

Along with capabilities, chemistry and conversation play a huge part.

Granted, some people have more charisma and present better than others. The good news is that pitching best practices can be trained.

An outside perspective can be helpful to identity issues you're not seeing.

Need some help? With the benefit of reviewing hundreds of pitches and proposals each year, I can let you know whether your approach will stand out and make ears perk up or tune out.

If your pitch process is not wowing prospects or winning the business, don't lose heart. Smarti's business development development consulting services can take your pitch to the next level so clients will be captivated by your proposal ;-).

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!!

Hoping 2016 brings you continued success, exciting opportunities and good things to cheer,
Wishing you a healthy, peaceful and prosperous New Year!

Cheers to 2016!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Here's an interesting take from Digiday on what's "In" and "Out" from a media publishing and digital marketing perspective for 2016. Do you agree?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays!!

It's 70 degrees in New York. Surely, it's snowing somewhere!

Happy Holidays!!!