10 Guiding Principles When Hiring an Ad Agency

       by Donald Varner    www.AdvertisingAgencies.org


Every year many companies switch ad agencies for a multitude of reasons, a couple of top ones being 1) the competition is in the news a lot and our company isn’t getting that kind of exposure. 2) trust breaks down, and much of the relationship between agency and client is trust. 3) the company is looking for a magic bullet to increase sales and thinks the next ad agency has it.


So be sure when you switch advertising agencies it is for the correct reasons, the following ten guiding principles may help in your decision. Let’s start with the five Don’ts:


1) Don’t think local ad agency only, you could eliminate many very qualified ad agencies in this way. Today with the internet, phone, fax, smart phone, video conferencing and more; you can communicate almost like you are face to face with your ad agency regardless of where they reside.


2)  Don’t discount an agency because of their size. If you are a small business you may want to use a large ad agency and their considerable resources to help grow your business. If you are a large business you may want to utilize a small agency that has a more creative staff of people. It’s the ideas that count, so either size ad agency can be used no matter what size company you have.


3)  Don’t hire based solely on industry knowledge. You know your industry better than any agency you will hire, so hire an agency for the expertise you need from them which is their experience and creativity in marketing and advertising. There is always a learning curve when hiring any agency but those that have worked successfully in other industries bring that creative element to your campaign so it can be different than what others in your industry are currently doing and that is what you want, right?


4) Don’t let the numbers lull you into a false sense of security about your decision. If you go strictly by the numbers about an agency and how it performed in the past you can make mistakes. These can be helpful facts to be sure, but they do not paint the entire picture. Some things have a higher value than do others so it is hard to quantify each aspect. You will need to use how you feel about the agency as a whole and no one facet can be relied upon to make the decision for you.


5) Don’t use speck art as a measuring tool, in fact don’t even ask the agency for speculative art. If you ask, the ad agency will most likely use an underling to produce it or have their artist do something in a hurry because they don’t even know if they have your account yet. The best way to gauge an agency’s creative is to look at past and present client’s actual ads. Doing  this will give you a true view as to the quality work this agency produces for it’s clients.



Here are the 5 Do’s of hiring an Ad Agency:


1) Do consider what you are trying to accomplish. Do you want an ad agency that will produce exactly what you tell them or do you want them to lead the way on what to do and how to do it? Do you want an agency just to create the artwork or to help develop your entire annual marketing plan? With thousands of ad agencies across America you can find the exact type you want.


2)  Do note the advertising you like. Compile a book of advertising pieces that you think are smart and creative. This will be a great way to discuss with an agency you do hire about ads that you like so they can get a better understanding of what you are looking for. When considering an agency also consider if they have won any awards, this is a great way of gauging how that agency is viewed by its piers in the advertising industry. If you see an ad you really love you can Google it and see what agency produced it or call and ask the client who they used.


3)  Do your research on the agencies you are considering, check out their website and see samples of their work, read up on the history of their company, their mission statement and their values. If all looks great then contact the agency and talk with them in person to get a feel as to the chemistry between the two of you.


4) Do meet with the agencies you are considering after all the research is done. Invite them to your office at your business and see what type of process they use to create marketing plans. Is it creative or analytical?  Do you like their process and solutions? If you ask to see some of their client’s case studies they of course will show you their winners, so look at their methods and processes and be sure you agree with them.


5) Do get to know the agencies you may hire. Spend some time at their agency meeting the different people that work there and seeing their work, as long as it is not confidential. By getting to know the people that do the different jobs and talking with them yourself will you know if this is a good match for you and your company.


Ask how much your business means to their agency and what they foresee in the future for the both of you. Be sure of the services they will provide and compensation they will want. You want as many details in advance of starting this relationship as you can get.


Finding the right ad agency can take some time and be some work but in the end having the right ad agency can mean the difference of night and day for your brand. As David Ogilvy said “Just by changing the headline in an ad can increase the response by as much as ten times.”



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