Trying to select an ad agency isn’t like playing pin the tail on the donkey — closing your eyes and hoping for the best will lead to a bad fit. Being unsure on how to find the right advertising agency that suits you is not a new or rare situation. That’s why it can help to get some insight from across the table. Here are three ways to help you find the right ad agency for you, straight from an advertising agency.

Determine Your Advertising Needs So You Can Find the Right Agency 

Before you begin your ad agency hunt, you need to decide what you are trying to achieve and why you need an advertising agency. That means creating some advertising goals and answering, “what do I want to achieve?” Once you know that, you will be prepared to search ad agencies and answer questions from potential agency partners. 

For example, when you’re having a conversation with an ad agency on marketing strategies the agency will be working to create new concepts, establish direction, and effectively use resources to achieve long term goals. However, if your company has an existing marketing strategy you’ll be looking for a partner with more practical and straightforward methods to execute these plans. Some agencies provide both, while others specialize in one area.

Other things to consider,

  • Advertising Creative
  • Branding & Strategy
  • Market Research
  • Media Buying & Scheduling

Now, it’s time to consider the expected length of your relationship. Are you looking to get a few, key projects completed that reinforce your existing strategy? Or, do you want a marketing partner that will live and breathe your company and industry, helping you define, develop, and accomplish long-term marketing goals? Some ad agencies work project-to-project, while others are prepared for multi-month or multi-year relationships. Understanding the type of relationship you need will help you find the right advertising agency; this relationship insight will also help you create your ever-important budget. 

Find the Right Advertising Agency by Knowing Your Budget

You don’t have to calculate your budget down to the penny, but a ballpark estimate will aid you in your search. When you don’t have a budget, agencies can’t present you with suitable campaign ideas. Should agencies, such as Bold Entity, be pitching multi-million dollar plans or something closer to two thousand dollars? This helps advertising agencies manage expectations and avoid the pitfalls of “champagne taste with a beer budget.”

Prepare for Your Right Ad Agency with RFPs

Preparation is essential. Before you reach out to anyone, develop a comprehensive Request For Proposal (RFP). Your RFP details your company’s needs and is an advertising agency’s first look into your business. When you submit RFPs to various agencies, you’ll be able to evaluate and compare their potential approaches, strategies, and pricing.

Including in-depth information in your RFP, such as your business model, budget, and target demographics, will help them understand which techniques will work best for you.

Don’t forget to include advertising your company has tried in the past. Being upfront about past campaigns and strategies will help ad agencies avoid repeating any pitfalls: giving them a clearer sense of direction, and saving time and resources on strategies that have been ineffective in the past.

Look for an Advertising Agency with the Right Focus

There are different types of ad agencies, and it’s easy to get lost in the sea of possibilities. But, it’s essential to stay focused on your goals. When reviewing potential advertising agency partners, look for everything you realistically need for your advertising goals, and avoid extra service offerings and specialties that don’t serve these goals.

Did you know B2B and B2C marketing are researched and executed differently? If your company is B2B, look for types of ad agencies that have experience in B2B marketing. Other agency consideration factors could include the company’s size, location, reach, and specialization.
Large agency size doesn’t necessarily mean an agency will handle the necessary fluidity better than a smaller agency. In fact, if your company doesn’t have a huge budget, their attention may be eaten up by larger accounts and you may not get the attention you deserve. Keep in mind, you are looking for an agency that can meet project deadlines, expand your business and increase revenue.

While many ad agencies have experience in specific industries; you don’t necessarily need to choose an agency based on your industry. Sometimes understanding and communication is facilitated if your select ad agency has experience in a closely-related industry, a new perspective may be just what your company needs to differentiate you from the competition.

Marketing is a broad term that has many different niches and ranging complexities. Some marketing agency specializations include branding, creative, digital marketing, public relations, and traditional media. Keeping your advertising goals in mind will help you determine the right type of ad agency for you.

Research Potential Partners and Ask the Right Questions

With your goals set, your RFP in hand, and your focus understood, it’s finally time to begin your search. There are many ad agencies available to you: often the best way to start looking is by asking. Gather reliable recommendations by asking non-competing business owners you trust and visiting third-party review sites such as Clutch.co. If you find yourself facing difficulty, even a Google search can be helpful.

After compiling a list of potential ad agencies, get more insight into these their work by looking at their portfolio. Another key insight is reviewing how well the prospective agencies advertise themselves. Then advance the selection process by setting up meetings with your chosen few.
Remember, these meetings are intended for you to familiarize yourself with the ad agencies. Ask about their specialty, their core competencies, and other questions to help you understand if they are what you and your business need. Here are some example questions to help get the ball rolling.

  • Who will be working on my account?
  • What’s your minimum client budget?
  • Are we big enough to be worth your time or too big for what you can handle?
  • What are your fees and billing structure?
  • Can you provide a good reference from a company like ours?
  • Do you have any conflicts of interest?
  • Are you now or have you ever worked with one of our competitors?

Hire the Right Advertising Agency

When you hire an agency, you begin a relationship between your company and theirs. Knowing this, remember to look for an agency that genuinely wants to understand your business and knows your culture. Great agencies don’t need to invent stories; instead, take the time to find an agency that will reveal your authenticity. Although it can be a long process, the time and effort you put in to find the right ad agency to help you succeed will be well worth it.