Find an Ad Agency That Gets Results
Tips for finding the right agency for your business
As a small business, you probably don't have the in-house
expertise to create a professional-caliber ad campaign. Follow these steps to
find an agency that can help you with advertising strategy, creative
development and media selection.
Research. Compile a short list of agencies that might be right for
- Consult a directory, such as
the Standard Directory of Advertising Agencies from National Register Publishing or the Adweek Directory, to find
information on advertising agencies, public-relations firms, media-buying
services and specialty ad shops.
- Ask for referrals from
colleagues in business organizations, industry associations and
- Be on the lookout for sharp
advertising by businesses roughly the same size as yours. If you see
something you like, call the company to find out which agency did the
Review. Evaluate the qualifications of each agency you're
- Look at a portfolio of
recent work, especially samples of advertising created for clients with
budgets similar to yours.
- Meet with agency staff,
including the people who might be working on your account.
- Get an idea of what the
agency recommends for your ad campaign.
- Check references. Ask the
agency for a list of companies they've worked with and call each one.
Ask questions. Before you make a final decision, ask yourself some
questions to determine if an agency is a good fit for your business.
- Does the agency have
experience working with clients in your industry or business sector? Does
it specialize in retail advertising or business-to-business advertising?
- Is the agency large enough to
handle your business but small enough that you won't get lost? A one- or
two-person shop might not have the resources to respond quickly and
effectively to your needs. A big agency may have impressive credentials,
but you could end up playing second fiddle to larger accounts.
- Will you get attention from
partners or top-level people? Who will handle your account on a day-to-day
- Does the agency have
expertise in the medium of particular interest to you, whether it's
television, Internet, radio or print?
- Is the agency knowledgeable
about your business? Does it understand your competitive situation? Does
it present creative solutions to your advertising needs?
- Does the agency have a media
department? If you want the agency to place your ads for you, they should
have a media department. Otherwise, you'll have to handle this yourself.
- Will you be charged on a
project basis or fee-for-service basis? What are the hourly rates? What's
the estimated cost for any outsourced work?
- Does the agency seem
flexible, open and committed to your business goals?
- Does the agency's style and
corporate culture match yours? Are you on the same wavelength? Putting
together an ad campaign is a creative, collaborative endeavor, and you
should feel completely comfortable with the agency and its staff.