If you’re looking to help your business grow, the use of professional, experienced advertising and public relations firms can make a big difference. But once you’ve committed to the idea that you need professional help, how do you choose the right agency?
Start by understanding the difference between advertising and PR. The traditional definition of advertising goes something like this: “Creating or changing attitudes, beliefs and perceptions by influencing people with purchased broadcast time (radio, television, audio/videocassette), print space (newspapers, magazines, journals, programs, billboards), or other forms of written/visual media (flyers, brochures, billboards).”
Once you’ve decided that you need an advertising agency, use this checklist as a guideline for selecting the best possible one for your needs and goals.
- Be certain that the ad agency realizes that advertising is only a small portion of marketing. The agency must demonstrate that it knows there are many other marketing weapons and that it is capable of using (or directing the use of) all the appropriate ones in your potential marketing arsenal. Guerrilla businesses deserve guerrilla advertising agencies. Don’t settle for less.
2. Ascertain that your account will be considered special and deserving of the agency’s top talent. Be sure that you meet and talk to the people who will actually be doing your advertising: creative, media, research, the whole works. See what else the creative people have created. Ask about the results. Avoid agency figureheads and get to know the troops who will be serving on your front line. Is the chemistry right between you? Don’t underestimate the immense power of good chemistry.
3. Be sure that your agency understands your company’s objectives and considers them reasonable. This understanding will be reflected in the marketing and advertising strategy that the agency creates for you. If it’s missing, look elsewhere.
4. Check to see that the people who will be working on your account have the right credentials, experience, and attitude. See if they are good listeners. If they haven’t worked on a business just like yours, don’t worry. Just make sure that they understand the critical relationship between profitability and creativity. If it doesn’t help you earn profits, it’s not creative.
5. Be positive that the people you will work with have a knowledge of your business, an interest in your business, and a knowledge of the competitive situation. If they’ve done their homework by the time they present to you, they’ll have these things. If not, you’re not interested.
6. Look at the ads and other marketing materials they have created: theme lines, logos, signs, brochures, videos, catalogs, newsletters, Web sites, direct mail letters, postcards, posters, etc.
7. The best advertising agencies have grown from the growth of their clients and those clients’ ever-increasing marketing investments. That is a better benchmark than growth coming from new clients. Such agencies are hard to find. But the search will be worth your time.
When selecting an advertising agency, ask people from the agency to make a presentation to you, but don’t ask them to spend a lot of money doing so. Listen to their words, hoping they will talk more about you than about themselves. Be aware of the emphasis they place on the importance of a strategy, for that strategy is crucial to you. See if they know how advertising fits into the overall marketing mix. Be wary if they speak only of advertising and nothing about marketing.