Many agency relationships start off with such promise. All the top people are involved with your account in the beginning. Then they disappear and you are left with the underlings. I have often found that I get better work from boutique agency or an individual consultant. My theory is that I am working more closely with the people who are doing the actual work, and I am closer to the principals. This isn’t to say that a large agency can’t deliver.

Do your due diligence upfront before you choose an agency. Significant money and resources can go into a project with an advertising agency so to protect your investment follow these guidelines when making your selection.

First determine what you are looking to accomplish and what is required. Agencies can’t be experts in all areas although they typically will tell you they are. So pinpoint what you need and assess if this agency has that expertise. Review previous projects the agency has done to get a feel for where the majority of their projects fit.

Most importantly ask for some client references. Sure, the references will be positive but with the right questions you can learn information that will help you make your decisions. Also nothing stops you from calling clients listed on the agency’s site that they didn’t give as a reference. Ask for the head of marketing and mention that you are considering working with ABC agency and saw their name listed as a client.

Key questions for references:

  • Does the agency understand your business?
  • Did the agency meet your deadlines?
  • What kind of a project turn around time did you ask for?
  • Are their project estimates on target or do projects typically go over?
  • What were your goals/expectations for the project?
  • What results have you gotten from their work?
  • Who are the people you worked with?
  • What is the experience level of the people working on the account?
  • What were their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Rate the agency of scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being the best?
  • What could they do to earn a 10?

In summary:

  • Determine what you need upfront
  • Match the work to the agencies competencies
  • Talk to some references


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