If you search the terms “advertising agency” or “marketing firm” and your city, you’re likely to get a few pages of results with no real idea on how to choose the one that’s best for you. I’ve put together a list of steps that may help you navigate the waters and find the company that’s right for you and your business.
- Evaluate your needs. Do you need a full advertising campaign or do you need a press release? Is it a rush job or do you have time? Knowing what type of project or services you’ll need is the first step in choosing the right agency for you.
- Choose a type. There are many types of ad agencies and marketing firms, ranging from full-service to boutique to those that specialize in one facet (i.e. public relations or web design). Narrowing your focus can simplify the selection process.
- Decide on a search area. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to work with someone based in a different time zone. Is having face-to-face meetings a priority? Is it is better to have an agency that knows your market or provides a specialized service out of market? These are the types of questions you should ask yourself before you start the search.
- Ask around. Contact your local American Advertising Federation chapter for their member list. If you like the look and feel of another business’ ads, ask them who created them. Chances are, they love their agency and will be willing to refer them.
- Research and more research. Check out the agency’s website, social media pages and portfolio to get a feel for who they are. It can get pretty overwhelming quick, so take notes and limit yourself to researching five or six agencies.
- Meet and greet. Choose three of the agencies you’ve researched and set up a meet and greet. You are not obligated to sign anything at the first meeting and can learn a lot in an hour. Ask questions, get a feel for their culture and staff. Will it mesh well with how you do business?
- Make a decision. Take into account how you felt when you left the meeting. Were you excited and energized? Did they follow up when they said they were going to? Not rushing into a decision is one of the best decisions you can make. Take a couple of days post-meeting to decompress and evaluate what you’ve learned before choosing an agency.
Going through any selection process can be time-consuming and exhausting. Using the steps outlined above should make it less overwhelming and, hopefully, lead you to a company that works best for – and with – you.
Nadia Zerka is an account manager at Imagine Communications. She can be contacted via email.