How to Select the Best Advertising Agency for Your Business

When working to meet growth objectives, the most successful business leaders understand the importance of outsourcing. Bringing in outside help in key areas can free up your team’s time to focus on streamlining operations, driving sales and boosting profits. One of these key areas is marketing and advertising. Hiring an advertising agency means having a dedicated team of professionals on your side. The trick is to find an advertising agency that takes the time to understand your business and then build a strategy that matches your goals. If you’re looking for an advertising agency, but aren’t sure what a good idea looks like, this article is for you.

Determine if You Need an Advertising Agency

Before diving too deep into the agency selection process, we recommend taking a moment to determine if now is the right time to bring in an agency. Here are a few questions business leaders might consider during this step:

What is your advertising objective? 

When determining if an advertising agency is right for business, you will need a fairly detailed idea of what your goals are in hiring an agency team. Are you looking for creative support? Planning a product or service launch? Have a specific sales goal to hit? Perhaps your objectives are a combination of all of the above! Many companies are looking for an agency that can handle everything from strategy and branding to media buying and analysis, but some businesses may want fewer services or more specialized expertise. In any case, a defined objective allows you to compare agency capabilities and experience to find one that’s a perfect match. 

Are your advertising needs ongoing or on a per-project basis? 

Alongside knowing what you are looking to accomplish, businesses must also consider whether you need ongoing support in the form of an agency retainer or if you want to bring in help on a per-project basis. Some agencies only take on retainer clients, while others offer flexible project-by-project contracts. Again, having an idea of what your business needs are will help you narrow down your options.

Do you have a budget and/or timeframe?

Finally, one of the most important considerations when choosing an agency is cost. Depending on agency size, experience and project scope, the costs associated with advertising campaigns can vary greatly. 

What to Consider When Choosing an Advertising Agency

When it comes to advertising and marketing, your business needs the right agency to help you succeed. Your agency should be able to show you measurable results, such as increased traffic and revenue. It should also be able to provide insights into your tools and services so that you can make informed decisions about what works best for your business. 

Here are some areas to focus on when considering an advertising agency for your business:

Experience and Proven Track Record

Award-winning advertising agencies or those that have been recognized by their peers as top performers in their industry are always a good starting point when choosing possible marketing partners. However, awards and accolades aren’t everything. You’ll also want to consider: 

  • How long has the agency been around?
  • Do they have experience in your industry?
  • What kind of projects has it worked on in the past? 
  • Do those projects match up with what you need now? 
  • Does the agency have a track record of bottom-line results for their clients?

When comparing agencies, it can be tempting to go “apples to apples” and conclude an agency with more experience in your industry will be a better fit than one whose experience covers several categories. While industry knowledge and experience is a plus, an “outsider” agency can deliver a fresh perspective. Ultimately, businesses will want to select an agency with relevant experience and a history of delivering a return on client investments.

Creativity, Passion and Innovation

While selecting an agency, be sure to check out their portfolio of past work if possible and talk with other clients who have hired them before so that you can get an idea of how well they’ll perform for your brand and budget. As you go through an agency’s past creative, look for:

Creativity: The right ad agency will have a solid mix of creativity and skill to come up with an effective marketing campaign. You don’t want an agency that just churns creative—your ads need to be unique, so that they stand out from competitors’ messaging.

Passion: An ad agency should be passionate about what they do. If you’re looking for someone who will create excellent content for your business, look for agencies that have a history of success and client testimonials.

Innovation: A good advertising agency will always be looking for new ways to reach customers and improve their campaigns. They’ll also be able to tell you if your current strategy is working or if there are better ways to approach your audience.

Agency Size and Costs 

When choosing an agency, keep in mind smaller agencies tend to offer more personalized service, but larger ones may have more resources available for large-scale campaigns. For most businesses with regional marketing needs, a “sweet spot” mid-size agency can fulfill multi-million-dollar media contracts while providing dedicated management you can reach anytime.

Agencies also have different price points depending on their size, capabilities, experience and reputation within the industry. Consider how much money you’re willing to invest into your campaign before choosing an agency partner that fits within your budget range while still providing high quality services. While narrowing your options, ask about agencies’ pricing models and what services they offer at different price points so you can determine if they’re a good fit for your business’s needs and budget.

Location

Some businesses prefer to work with local agencies available for face-to-face meetings at short notice, while others opt for the flexibility to choose an agency anywhere in the country or even the world. Many local agencies employ remote workers who still have access to local resources such as large offices or conference rooms. Both avenues offer unique pros, so it’s up to your business’s leadership to weigh out the best option. If you choose an agency without an office near your business, simply be sure they offer other ways for you to communicate effectively, such as phone calls, video calls or email correspondence.

Finding an Advertising Agency

The best advertising agencies are worth their weight in gold. They can help your company stand out from the crowd in a very competitive marketplace. But how do you find one? There are many different ways to go about selecting an advertising agency, so it’s important to know what your options are and which method will work best for you.

Issue a Request for Proposals 

Companies often send out RFPs when they need to fill a specific marketing role or project. These documents outline everything from the business’s goals to their expected budget and timeline, which allows agencies to submit proposals responding to these criteria. Once you have written up your RFP document, it can be sent out to several agencies at once, increasing your chances of getting high-quality bids from the best agencies available. However, keep in mind this method is that it takes time, effort and money on both sides — not counting the fact that there’s no guarantee that any agencies will respond at all.

References

Another good place to start when looking for an advertising agency is with referrals from other businesses in your industry or area. Ask around and find out who they used and how satisfied they were with their services. If someone has had good experiences with an agency, chances are good that they will be able to refer you as well.

Direct Contact

Finally, businesses can also conduct research to find qualified agencies online and reach out to their new business departments directly. New business teams will likely ask a few preliminary questions, like scope of work, budget and timeline, then put you in contact with the right person to determine if the partnership is a good fit. 

We hope this article has been helpful if your business is at the stage where hiring an advertising agency for support looks like the next natural step for growth. The agency selection process can be daunting, but finding the right fit not only makes for a satisfying “Cinderella moment,” but can help bring your company to the next level.

Contributing Writer Izzy Angel