Five Things to Consider Before Hiring an Ad Agency

Your marketing department is slammed. Even if you had the budget to add a couple more team members, you wouldn’t have the time or resources to bring them up to speed and catch up on all the work that needs to be done. New requests are piling up, making it hard to keep up with the tasks you’ve already planned to tackle, let alone the new ones.

You need help! An ad agency will fix it, right? They’ll be able to help you catch up and get ahead of it all. You’ll be back on your feet in no time.

Hold on. Take a deep breath. Hiring an ad agency — the RIGHT agency — should not be a snap decision made in panic mode. Take a step back and ask yourself these five questions before picking up the phone or sending that email. You’ll be glad you did.

What Do We Want?

This will likely be the answer you feel most confident about. Maybe you need something as simple as an ad for a trade show brochure, or maybe you need help with more complex projects, such as a new logo, social media management or a website refresh. Regardless, the realization that you need help from outside your organization is the first step.

What Do We Need?

This question often requires a little more introspection, and your answer should include the big picture. Should that trade show ad tie to a landing page? If so, what happens when visitors land there? Do you need follow-up materials? Taking a step back can be tremendously helpful in gaining deeper understanding of what you’ll be requesting from the agency.

What Can We Afford?

This can be usually a tough question to answer, but it’s a one that will keep things in perspective — for you and your agency. While you may indeed need an updated website, a rebrand or a multitiered campaign to launch a new product, you need to have the budget for it.

One of the first questions your agency representative will ask you is what your budget is. Once they know that figure, they can determine the strategies and tactics that work within that budget and give you the best results for your money. Knowing your budget up front will save the agency time, which saves you money.

Who Will Make the Decisions?

Deciding who will be included in the agency selection process, creative discussions and approval is crucial to your success. Your goal should be to include only the relevant decision-makers from the right departments and no more.

What Are Our Top Criteria?

This is the most important question of all. The reason you’re working with an agency is because they draw from a wealth of experience in terms of goals, strategies and tactics. They have broad experience working with clients in various industries, and they have learned lessons that will be applicable to your goals. That depth of knowledge enables you to get further, faster, and as affordably as possible.

Identify the ultimate goal of your project. Do you want leads, sales, brand awareness, visits to a trade show booth? Giving your agency this information is much more useful to them than asking for 1,000 postcards you can mail to people within a 50-mile radius of your pizza shop. That money may be better spent on an integrated, multichannel campaign that incorporates email, coupons and social media. Maybe a billboard or TV spot will yield better results.

You won’t know until you ask. Agencies have an arsenal of tactics at their fingertips, as well as experience and expertise with each. When you have clearly defined goals, you and your agency can better track progress and success.

Working with an agency can fill in the gaps in your marketing and increase the success of your projects. Taking the time to answer these questions will help you and your agency determine the best and most cost-effective way to achieve your goals. And remember, it’s not about finding the most prestigious, expensive or trendy ad agency. It’s about finding the right agency for your company, your culture, your project and your budget.