When it comes to choosing a creative agency for your advertising, branding and design needs, personality fit counts for a lot. After all, you’ll be working closely with these people in high stakes, deadline-driven situations. The fit can be determined almost instantly when you meet them in person, but in the mean time, how do you narrow your search? Keep in mind the following:
1. Size vs. Value: The bigger you go, the more cooks you get in the kitchen. This can be a good thing: many of the large multi-service advertising agencies have a team of strategists and creative directors that can provide great ideas and insight. You’ll be paying for that expertise and it takes time to get your message heard by a large team. Keep in mind that even the large agencies usually still outsource the animation work, so you’ll be paying a mark-up on those services. You can go directly to an animator to get the work done, but generally you’ll be providing a lot of the prep work, from strategic planning to copy writing and audio. Medium-sized creative firms generally offer strategic branding and campaign services, experienced producers and a team of creative minds who are all used to delivering the whole enchilada quickly and to budget. Smaller agencies may impress you with lower pricing, but beware they have the adequate resources to handle the full project. They often outsource much of the work to keep overhead costs down, and can get caught if their go-to partners are busy with other projects.
2. Guinea Pig Pitfalls: It’s easy for creative companies to become experts in a particular style or step in the creative process. After all, doing good work leads to more of the same work. So when you’re shopping around for a creative partner, make sure they have a solid track record of doing the kind of work you need. They may lower their bid for the project because the work would provide a nice addition to their portfolio or could be a strong case study for them. Maybe this is a win/win. Or maybe you’re gambling with your limited marketing dollars.
3. Timing is Everything: Is your timeline realistic with the expectations you’re setting for the work? This question is valid when planning any project really, but in the creative world, a misalignment in timeline expectations happens a lot. A creative agency can turn around a really complex project quickly, but not if you need time for them to incorporate your notes and test it with a market sample. They’ll likely say yes to the project, but be open to considering any recommendations you get regarding adjusting the scope to maximize quality and effectiveness. The best of the best pride themselves on making great creative work for their clients – that also drives bottom line results.
Start shopping around early so you’ve already vetted creative agencies before your boss drops that fantastic ‘we-can’t-afford-not-to-take-advantage-of-this-opportunity!’ campaign idea on your desk. You’ll be glad you did.
Started shopping already? Watch this.