Strategy + Creative

How to hire an advertising agency.

How to hire an advertising agency.

Beckie ManleyAdvertising, FS+C

Hiring an ad agency is a big deal, especially if it’s the first time. You are investing hard-earned dollars into something that might seem mysterious and intangible at first. On the agency side of the table, we are confident in our ability to demonstrate how branding and advertising work because we see it work for our clients every single day. We know the wealth of data that is available to make what feels mysterious suddenly become pure, hard-core power. We know that as clients see their investment in branding and advertising working hard and see it making a difference, it’s intoxicating. We live for these moments of discovery with our clients. But as the client, you have to have confidence in your choice because you are making a commitment on behalf of your brand and you need it to succeed.

Not every agency is the right agency for you. You want to be wary of agencies who are about clever advertising vs. effective advertising, about short term goals vs. understanding long term goals. You want a team who does their homework first and asks lots of good questions. You want a team who knows the importance of research and strategy and how it needs to lead the way with every creative endeavor. You want an experienced team that has good chemistry with you. At the end of the day, you have to trust your instincts on your choice.

Here are a few tips from Inc. on what to look for.

  1. Be certain that the ad agency realizes that advertising is only a small portion of marketing. The agency must demonstrate that it knows there are many other marketing weapons and that it is capable of using (or directing the use of) all the appropriate ones in your potential marketing arsenal.
  2. Ascertain that your account will be considered special and deserving of the agency’s top talent. Be sure that you meet and talk to the people who will actually be doing your advertising – creative, media, research, the whole works. See what else the creative people have created. Ask about the results. Avoid agency figureheads and get to know the troops who will be serving on your front line. Is the chemistry right between you? Don’t underestimate the immense power of good chemistry.
  3. Be sure that your agency understands your company’s objectives and considers them reasonable. This understanding will be reflected in the marketing and advertising strategy that the agency creates for you. If it’s missing, look elsewhere.
  4. Check to see that the people who will be working on your account have the right credentials, experience, and attitude. See if they are good listeners. If they haven’t worked on a business just like yours, don’t worry. Just make sure that they understand the critical relationship between profitability and creativity.
  5. Be positive that the people you will work with have a knowledge of your business, an interest in your business, and a knowledge of the competitive situation. If they’ve done their homework by the time they present to you, they’ll have these things. If not, you’re not interested.
  6. Look at the ads and other marketing materials they have created: tag lines, logos, brochures, videos, websites and TV.
  7. The best advertising agencies have grown from the growth of their clients and those clients’ ever-increasing marketing investments. That is a better benchmark than growth coming from new clients. Such agencies are hard to find. But the search will be worth your time.