Have you looked at an ad agency’s website recently? It seems like every advertising firm on the planet talks about themselves the exact same way. So how can you navigate the sea of “innovative thinkers” and “strategic creatives?” When deciding between dozens of “full service” agencies, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?
In our experience, there are three key components that the best advertising firms do extraordinarily well. While every agency has its own strengths and weaknesses, working with an agency that meets all of the following criteria is the single easiest way to ensure success on your project. Here are what the best advertising firms have in common:
1. The Best Advertising Firms Have Purpose
You want your brand to stand out in the marketplace. You want potential customers to look at your products and services and really connect with you. If you want to find an advertising agency that can do this effectively, you should probably try to find an agency that has done it well for themselves first.
Look at their website. Do you understand clearly what they do and why they do it? If not, do you really trust that they’ll be able to do this for your brand? The best advertising firms don’t merely help you make more money, they have a passion for storytelling, design, or analytics (the really good ones are passionate about all three). They have a driving force that is bigger than their bottom line. If you want to find the best firm for you, start with purpose.
As you vet potential partners, who do you connect with the most and why? These are the partners who will be most effective at helping you connect with your target market.
2. The Best Advertising Firms Have Vision
Second only to purpose is vision. When vetting a potential ad agency, it’s important to understand what their big picture vision is, not just of the creative for a campaign, but on the impact on your business.
Too often, agencies get away with designing a very aesthetically pleasing campaign, but completely forgets to work in a big-picture vision of what the campaign actually accomplishes. Eliminate these problems by asking these questions of any firm you’re considering:
- How does this campaign fit into our overall business goals?
- What is the impact you expect to see from this campaign? What quantifiable goals do you have?
- What elements of this campaign can we reuse? What elements can we not reuse?
- How does this campaign perform across platforms? If you’re proposing a traditional media solution, how easily can we leverage this campaign on our digital channels?
- In a perfect world, what would our next steps be after this campaign ends? How would we capitalize on the momentum that you helped us build?
If a potential agency answers these types of questions well, they likely have the vision necessary to be a successful long-term partner.
3. The Best Advertising Firms Are Transparent
Finally, the best advertising firms are 100 percent transparent. If you’re committing to an ongoing relationship, you’re likely spending five (or even six) figures per month with this agency. It’s your right to understand what’s going on. Effective communication, however, is where most agency relationships break down. If the agency doesn’t communicate enough, the client will try to micromanage the process, and the relationship begins to deteriorate.
In order to prevent this, it’s important to choose an agency partner who has systems in place to assure effective communication. Before you sign on with an agency, ask them about their reporting and communication process. How often do they communicate results? In what format do they send reports? What data is included? What information is excluded? It’s important to have a complete understanding of their communication style before you agree to anything.
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