Tips on How to Choose an Ad Agency
If you're looking to help your
business grow, the use of professional, experienced advertising and public
relations firms can make a big difference. But once you've committed to the
idea that you need professional help, how do you choose the right agency?
Start by understanding the difference between advertising and PR. The
traditional definition of advertising goes something like this: "Creating or
changing attitudes, beliefs and perceptions by influencing people with
purchased broadcast time (radio, television, audio/videocassette), print
space (newspapers, magazines, journals, programs, billboards), or other
forms of written/visual media (flyers, brochures, billboards)."
Once you've decided that you need an advertising agency, use this checklist
as a guideline for selecting the best possible one for your needs and goals.
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. Guerrilla
businesses deserve guerrilla advertising agencies. Don't settle for less.
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. If it doesn't help you earn profits,
it's not creative.
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: theme
lines, logos, signs, brochures, videos, catalogs, newsletters, Web sites,
direct mail letters, postcards, posters, etc.
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.
When selecting an advertising
agency, ask people from the agency to make a presentation to you, but don't
ask them to spend a lot of money doing so. Listen to their words, hoping
they will talk more about you than about themselves. Be aware of the
emphasis they place on the importance of a strategy, for that strategy is
crucial to you. See if they know how advertising fits into the overall
marketing mix. Be wary if they speak only of advertising and nothing about