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March 11th, 2012

The Five Biggest Mistakes People Make When Hiring an Ad Agency

Choosing the right advertising agency is an important key to effectively promoting your business, and will save you countless hours and unnecessary expense in the long run.

Here are five common mistakes to avoid and suggestions to keep you on the right track:

1. Choosing the wrong size agency

An ad agency should be large enough to handle your current needs and grow with your business. But bigger is not necessarily better. If you’re a relatively small account at your agency, you’re likely to get less experienced staff members working on your business.

The solution: Examine an agency’s client list before you hire them and make sure it isn’t dominated by companies much bigger than your own.

2. Putting too much emphasis on experience in your specific business category

Relevant experience is important, but see what your agency can do outside for other types of clients, too. It’s easier for a smart, talented agency to learn your business than it is for an experienced, but dull, agency to think outside the box.

The solution: Look for an agency whose work showcases an ability to project a distinct and appropriate personality for each client.

3. Going with the low bidder

The success of an ad campaign hinges upon your agency’s skill, creativity and capabilities. Often, the least expensive vendors are priced accordingly because they are lacking in one of those three areas.

The solution: Ask for a proposal disclosing all costs and a disclosure of the agency’s compensation. Ask for a complete listing of all full-time staff (excluding freelancers or part-time workers) and get several current portfolio samples showing work that has been done by the current staff.

4. Being charmed by personality

No question, you should have a comfortable working relationship with the people on your account. But make sure there’s real substance there, too.

Solution: Ask to meet the team that would be working on your account. Look for people who challenge you to think in new ways about your business, not those who agree to every word you say.

5. Expecting too much upfront

The amount of time and effort an agency will put into winning your business is directly related to your account’s potential profitability. It’s tempting to ask agencies to jump through hoops and answer thick, detailed requests for proposals. But if your account isn’t large enough for agencies to justify the time expenses required to answer, you’re not likely to get many takers. At least not many well-qualified ones.

Solution: Base your decision on personal meetings with the proposed team for each agency, a portfolio of recent work and a written estimate of costs. And be wary of any agency that promises to deliver “champagne taste on a beer budget.” In most cases, you do get what you pay for.

Randy Lynn

Randy Lynn

Partner/Creative Director - Digital
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