Finding the right advertising agency isn’t a Madman-esc series of liquid lunches in martini bars being courted by good looking advertising executives. Well, except for the part about good looking advertising executives; that part is totally true. Choosing the right agency is arguably one of the most important investments your company will make so you have to be pickier than a prom queen choosing a dance partner. Finding the right agency for you will exponentially increase your profits, global reach and brand positioning. Find the right story teller, and you can be the next best thing. Find the wrong one, and you’re a forgettable jingle that’s nothing but an interruption to current programming.
While it used to be that selecting one of the big boys on Madison Avenue was a sure-fire agency-selecting ploy, the internet has transformed the very fabric of advertising. Now a small-scale boutique agency with a team ten-strong can work every bit as effectively as the large behemoths with thousands of employees. While larger companies got that way by being great at what they do, smaller boutique agencies can give you the personal care and attention you need. If you want a campaign where you set it and forget it, then a larger company is probably your best bet. If you want to work with the advertising team to grow your marketing campaigns as your business grows, then a smaller agency is the way to go.
Show me the Money
When you pick an advertising agency, you’re picking a strategic partner for your business. Whether you are rebranding, moving into new territories or planning on growing your business, your advertising agency will be the vehicle for increased profitability. You need to decide how much you want your profit to increase. The fee your advertising agency charges is the investment you make to achieve that goal. Investing in advertising has one of the best returns on investment you can make as long as you pick the right agency.
Doing the work
Since you are going to be treating your advertising as an investment, it pays to put a little work into it. Create a detailed and comprehensive request for proposal (RFP). . Solidly document your confidentiality agreements prior to releasing your RFP. The more detailed it is, the more adequately the competing agencies can show how they will help you to achieve your profitability goals. Putting work and money into a comprehensive RFP will help you to select the right advertising partner. Be sure to include a clear understanding of your business model and your key demographics. Creating an RFP will also help you to solidify the vision you have of where your company is headed as well as the criteria you will use to narrow the scope of your agency search
The Attributes of Good Agencies
An agency that has your best interests at heart will show genuine interest in your business and your ideas. A good agency will want to have a partnership that gives you as much energy and attention on the 1,000th day as they did on the first.
Remember that you are developing a partnership, so you want a company that commits to developing a deep understanding of your business, builds trust, gets under the hood, listens and then responds. A good partner also provides guidance; a keel that keeps you on the right course. They should neither agree with your every whim when it doesn’t make good marketing sense, nor should they score avant garde award points that don’t serve your needs. While most agencies keep clients away from creative, having access to all team members is important.
Technology is your new BFF. A good agency has a grasp on new technologies, they don’t have to be code wizards, but they need to understand how technology can solve marketing problems and get the right people to implement or build the solutions.
Opt for an agency with long-term plans that incorporate a number of different strategies and measurements that will gauge success. Analytics and testing help to tweak campaigns so that you get the most bang for your buck.
Designers and coders should be one cohesive team; not mutually exclusive. This really is the essence of form follows function and it’s extremely difficult to find with larger companies. Everything should be driven by ideas. Not just pretty pictures, but real substance. This is the key to an enduring and endearing campaign.
Advertising is an investment. It must be entered into with as much preparation as any other major investment and it must be nurtured as a valuable partnership that, if successful, can reap immense benefits for both parties.