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10 Hot Tips for Choosing an Advertising Agency

Posted on 10th August, by Mike in blog. No Comments

My career has been split roughly 50:50 – 15 years client side and 15 years in agencies and I like to think I’ve picked up a few things along the way. Here are my top tips.

Everyone likes lists, and they like it if there are 10 items on it, so here goes…

  1. The People. Do you get on with the people in the agency, the ones you will be working with on a day to day basis? Are they genuinely interested in your business and industry? They may be award winning geniuses but if their attitude stinks and you don’t feel relaxed and confident dealing with them it will never work well.
  2. The Size. Bigger agencies, by virtue of their sheer size will garner more awards and be experienced working in more industries and more media – but will they see YOU as a big fish, or will you be a small fish in their big pond?
  3. Cost. Often a function of the size of the agency – someone has to pay for the swanky office. You need to understand the fee structure at the outset – are they happy to work to fixed contract costs?
  4. Creativity – only at number 4? Although agencies will tell you different, the fact is good, original creativity is not that rare, even after you have been through1-3 above there are plenty of great agencies that provide superb work that delivers results. Look at the work they have done and remember to avoid creativity for creativity’s sake – will it deliver results?
  5. Industry knowledge. A double edged sword, ideally you want the agency to have insight into your industry so they can share with you ‘best practice’ and you don’t have to spend time (and money) educating them. The down-side is they may have worked, or be working, for your competitors and they may have a narrow view on the creative approach.
  6. Famous Don Draper Kodak Carousel pitch from TV show Mad Men

    Platform experience. Ideally you want an agency in the vanguard of all the latest advertising and marketing techniques, so they can suggest new channels and approaches to your audience. But you don’t want them to use you as a guinea pig to try out new techniques which excite them but might not deliver.

  7. Recommendations. A lot of agencies feature client case studies on their website – don’t be afraid to call those clients and ask for a recommendation, you may be surprised by what you hear.
  8. Does it fit? Is the agency flexible enough to fit around the way you work? You may want to leave them to handle everything, or you might want to be involved in every stage to the process, are they happy to accommodate this? Can they work seamlessly with your in-house marketing team?
  9. Tactical/Strategic Thinkers. Can the agency think beyond the creative? Many agencies get excited and animated when it comes to developing advertising campaigns but struggle to understand the basics of running a business and juggling budgets.
  10. Geography. In the age of the Internet, the ‘Cloud’ and video conferencing where your agency is based isn’t as important as it once was. Depending on your business a local knowledge may be helpful but in my experience the only boundaries tend to be national ones.

Follow these 10 suggestions and you’re well on the way to finding the best agency for you.

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