How to Choose an Advertising Agency

Before you choose an ad agency, take an in-depth look at your advertising needs and at the abilities, reputation and fees of the agencies you're interested in. The ad agency you choose might create everything from print advertising to e-mail campaigns, and will play a crucial role in determining how potential clients view your company.


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    Decide what services you need. Before you hire an ad agency, determine why you're hiring them. Do you only need a few marketing materials produced, such as a sales letter or postcard? If so, you may simply need a freelance copywriter or graphic designer, not a full-scale advertising agency. If, however, you need an extensive marketing campaign, with everything from print ads to radio spots, you'll probably need the aid of an agency. You'll likely also want an agency if you need help deciding what kind of advertising campaign to launch, or if you need someone to place ads for you. Knowing what you need also helps you decide what kind of agency to choose. Some agencies specialize in certain formats, such as radio or television commercials, while others offer a wider variety of services. Also, some agencies focus mainly on creating specific advertising materials, while others will help you define your marketing goals and needs.
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    Determine your advertising budget. Larger agencies often charge more than smaller agencies, especially if they offer more services. While you may want to hire a prominent agency, their fees may exceed what you can afford. As a result, you may only be able to afford limited services from them, but could afford a more comprehensive plan at a smaller agency.
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    Decide if you want someone local. With tools like e-mail, videoconferencing and instant messaging, it's easier than ever to communicate in real-time with people across the country and even the world. You're no longer limited to choosing an agency in your city. Before you choose an agency, decide if you want someone located in the community you serve, especially if you're a small business that serves a specific city or region. While you can hire an agency in any location, do you want one that you can visit in-person? Or is proximity less important than the company's quality of work or reputation, for example?
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    Match the size of your company to the size of the ad agency. If you run a small business, you'll probably be better served by a small agency. Larger agencies may offer more services, but they may assign their top talent to more high-profile clients. With smaller agencies, however, you're more likely to receive personalized attention, and have access to their most talented employees, which often include the president or CEO. Also, if you're a small company, you probably don't need all of the services offered by a larger agency. If you run a large corporation, however, you'll probably need to work with a larger agency that can handle a wider variety of advertising services.
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    Take a closer look at agencies you're interested in. Ask if you can visit the agency and observe employees on a typical work day. You'll get a better idea of how the agency works, how well its employees work together and if you feel comfortable with the company's style and its employees. Also, request samples of work produced for other clients, and ask for 2 or 3 references from current or former clients.

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Categories: Marketing