10/02/2012 04:07 pm ET Updated Dec 02, 2012

Nice vs. Must

So for all of you at Advertising Week this week, how many of the companies you see offer a "must have" service versus a "nice to have" service? How many companies represent the latest shiny object that could be in your quiver?

Most marketers don't want to work with the latest shiny object. In fact, more and more marketers are getting hard-nosed -- they want a tangible ROI on every dollar spent. Did this partner help me move the needle? Forget about impressions, that metric has little value. And soon you can forget about engagement. Marketers want partners who deliver sales, actual dollars and cents!

I believe the leading top-tier CMOs are jammed with little time -- they therefore hire the biggest and "safest" agency partner who knocked on their door versus the ones they research and reach out to. Would you like to choose from a set pool of men if you were an attractive gal or do you want to see the entire world of men and pick and choose who you want to date? Well, marketers must choose the latter if they want to succeed -- by identifying their needs, the internal metrics they need to meet and then finding a partner who can get them there. Every industry sector has its nuances, so there is no one-size-fits-all.

Although many companies claim to have something "proprietary" with a unique "algorithm," blah blah blah. Tell me what your company will do for me in 15 seconds, please!

When is the last time any of your agency folks received a "blind" phone call from a brand asking to give you money? Most marketers don't take the entrepreneurial approach to finding their agency partners and most small entrepreneurial companies are so niche focused, they never get the chance to see a CMO. There are simply too many companies knocking on the CMO door, and the door can't possibly open that many times. American Express and Pepsi are two exceptions to this rule -- they are marketers who have ventured in their own strategic direction to uncover and to invest in -- in many circumstances -- the best-in-class agency partners, despite their size. I say this since many of the medium to large companies at Advertising Week are well funded and, in many cases, owned by one of the big holding companies. The small and entrepreneurial firms simply are hoping to be discovered.

So what are the odds of being discovered? Little to none by the marketer, probably the same odds that a fantastic singer has to be discovered by a top tier record label. (Although today we do have the Voices and American Idol TV shows which are now assisting in this pursuit).

So as you marketers sit at Adverting Week, have an open mind, take a risk seek out the small companies and give them some test budget where you can measure "success" and give them a shot.

And if you are not at Advertising Week, find a seasoned marketer to go uncover every company for you -- time is your commodity, it's your business to lose.

Don't play it safe. It will not win you a Digital Maven Award!