Unless your firm has its own marketing and graphic design department, sooner or later you are going to be faced with hiring an outside agency. It might be for one specific project such as a brochure or website, or it might be on an ongoing basis to look after your brand development and advertising. Regardless, there are a number of considerations when hiring an advertising or graphics firm and your overall satisfaction with the process will be directly related to your initial expectations.
To achieve success in the process, everyone’s expectations and goals must be clearly understood at the outset, in order to properly measure the effectiveness and value of the services provided.
In speaking with clients, I have found that some have had less than satisfactory experiences with agencies and design firms in the past. In some cases it has resulted from undefined expectations while in others it is a lack of experience or understanding of client needs from the agency. In order to eliminate this, here is a list of 10 questions that you should ask an agency and yourself before contracting them. The answers to these questions will provide your firm with a better understanding of how the agency operates, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and how they plan to improve your business.
Ask the Agency
- How long has the firm been in business and what experience do they have in your market?
- What type of approach will the agency take to understand your requirements?
- What approach will they take in developing effective marketing strategies?
- Do they have a strong marketing background in addition to creative design skills?
- How do they charge for their services? (Hourly, project, percentage)
- Are they able to provide full agency services? (Management, Design, Media)
- Who will look after your account and will you have access to senior partners & designers?
- How do they measure results?
- How do they develop and stay within budget parameters?
- Have they provided references?
- How mature is the market you are trying to penetrate?
- Is this a new market for you or are you increasing share?
- How aggressive are your competitors in this market?
- What percentage of market share do you expect to capture in the first year /2?
- How is your brand positioned currently?
- How is your company positioned?
- What key benefit do you offer (value proposition)
- What is your budget?
- Is your budget large enough to achieve your goals?
- How comfortable are you with taking risk?
The answers to these questions will help determine what approach and ultimately which agency is best suited for you. There are many excellent agency and designers out there. Finding one that fits with your goals and expectations will make the process both fun and rewarding.