When searching for an advertising or marketing agency, the options are virtually endless in the post-Madison Avenue world. Some organizations simply go with the trendiest, the biggest, or the cheapest, but these criteria don’t exactly fit the bill when you’re looking to build a lasting relationship with your agency.
For that you need to find a firm that clicks with your organization and marketing team, understands your vision, and makes your goals their own. One you can trust to act as an extension of your marketing department. A true partner.
So how do you find this partner?
Before approaching any potential agency partner, take stock of what you’re hoping to gain from the relationship. Are you looking for a one-off brochure, a brand refresh, a website overhaul or a combination of everything under the marketing umbrella? What timelines and budgets are you working with? How much do you want your agency to be involved in the strategy?
Knowing your expectations and needs will help you clearly communicate with potential agencies and give you a base from which to evaluate the candidates.
Some companies make the mistake of ruling out agencies that have never worked with an organization in their industry. This isn’t necessarily an accurate assessment of an agency’s ability to handle your work because their job is to communicate with a variety of audiences. A good agency is able to adapt their work to fit your needs.
To this end, consider their experience developing work that reflects the client’s marketing goals and effectively communicates with the intended audience. A history of taking time to get to know and understand their clients in various verticals and being able to translate that understanding into effective materials is more important than experience in any one industry.
Even if all the other pieces fall into place, if the agency simply doesn’t have the talent on staff to create what you need, the relationship will quickly fall apart. This, in part, is why it’s important to know what you want before beginning your search. Print work requires a different team than interactive. Trade show environments call for an approach that’s altogether unrelated to video production.
If you want an agency that can handle every aspect of your marketing, consider a full-service marketing agency rather than one that specializes in any given medium. Don’t just take their word for it, however, ask to see samples of work similar to each type of project you’d like to work with them on. If you want a website, review their web portfolio. An app? Use one they’ve created. Branding? Check out past identity work.
Understand how the agency works. Do they take the time to get to know you, your audience and the goals of a project before diving in? Are their creative aspirations more important than your messaging? Do they think critically and provide guidance when it’s needed?
Get to know their process and make sure they want to get to know yours as well. They should be just as interested in how they can align with your organization as you are. At the end of the day remember, your marketing agency works for you. They should be able to adapt to your processes and work within your requirements to deliver compelling and persuasive creative.
Making the effort to vet your creative agency could save you time, money and frustration in the long run. Going into the relationship with a clear, mutual understanding of how the other operates will allow you to hit the ground running from the first project as you begin working together toward a common goal.