So, you’ve had enough of internal marketing and decided it’s time to hand over the headache to a creative agency! Touché… But, where to begin? Choosing the right advertising agency can be tricky, especially with the varying sizes, services, and skills each one has to offer. But fear not; by taking note of some key areas like communication, data, and overall strategy, you can quickly determine which agency is the right fit for you. While there’s no manual for “How to Pick a Perfect Agency”, here are 5 qualities we’ve learned are essential for an agency to run swiftly and help your organization stay on track—quick, easy, and no one gets hurt!
1. Staying on Top of Industry Trends
It probably won’t shock you when we say that today’s advertising landscape is very fast paced. It seems that new technologies, platforms, and consumer behaviors pop up everywhere, very much like that boba shop down the street. Your agency should be staying up-to-date and making sure that you are in the loop too!
You should have the expectation that your agency will provide you with relevant insights and recommendations. By working with an agency that keeps up with trends, you can ensure they are delivering high quality, relevant work while providing the best service to you. You should also look for an agency that frames itself as a thought leader in your industry. Hopefully they are sending timely newsletters, like our Marketing Minutes, or constantly updating their website with new information. Of course, blogs (hint, hint) can be extremely valuable, not only in keeping with the times but inspiring your own creative thoughts as well.
2. Embracing Data and Analytics
Data, data, data! Every agency understands (at least we hope) how important data and analytics are to inform strategies, but many fail to take advantage of them! Data-driven decision-making is invaluable in our industry, and if used incorrectly, it can really hurt a campaign—or worse, your business. You need an agency with a comprehensive tracking strategy that can help you analyze the performance of your creative by seeing what literally clicks with your target audience in terms of engagement metrics and conversion rates. Above all, you need to make sure they pay attention to the data! Some agencies will invest time and money into analytics measuring tools only to leave them gathering dust on the shelf. So, find yourself an agency with a thing for numbers … and a feather duster!
3. Promoting Effective Communication
An advertising agency can work a bit like an orchestra: coordinating a cohesive performance between designers, account managers, copywriters, and YOU! However, instead of waving a stick in the air, clear communication is the key to keeping everyone on track. The foundation of both a successful campaign and a strong client relationship begins with early and frequent communication. Advertising campaigns often involve multiple departments, outside vendors, and partners — so making certain your agency has good communication skills will ensure everyone is working towards the same goals. If issues arise, the door should be open for you to offer feedback or raise questions when and if they arise. That being said, your agency’s responses should come quickly and clearly before those concerns escalate. Open communication will help identify problems, develop solutions, and improve the overall quality of your work and relationship! It’s like they said in the movie, High School Musical, “we’re all in this together.”
4. Operating from a Business Management System
Okay, sure, sometimes it’s great for an agency to play by their own rules— especially when it comes to creativity. But, at the very least, they should have clearly defined procedures and follow a business management system to help optimize their workflow and efficiency. An agency with streamlined operations helps them deliver the best possible services through an agency-wide understanding of how things work! And, of course this structure can lead to better financial management, making certain your projects are on time and (perhaps most importantly), on budget!
5. Pulling Strategy forward to Inform Creative
Your agency should understand that creativity doesn’t grow on trees but is rather rooted in a strategy. Strategy is the framework for any creative endeavor, and without a strong one, it can give way. While you may think strategy could limit creative potential, trust us: It’s better if there is a strategic roadmap to follow. An agency that makes use of the fusion of strategy and creativity will avoid unnecessary work, improve decision-making, and ensure that the final product is aligned with your tactics and goals.
So, did you get all of that?
Of course every agency is different in size and capability. And, while you don’t have to take them out to a candle-lit dinner, you should take a step back and evaluate where your needs are before diving headfirst into a relationship with an agency. That being said, make certain whatever agency you DO choose is aware of these key points, or you may have an awkward talk on your hands.
We hope this is helpful to you. And as we promised, no one got hurt (well, except for maybe that agency’s feelings…).
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