Cultivating more consumers who buy more, more often, & tell their friends!
For most b2c companies, a high-performing brand is the most productive path to growth. Branding connects your business to more consumers with compelling messages that encourage them to buy more of what you're selling. Advertising and other creative agencies are, therefore, some of the most important partners you can have to help you in this effort. For those who don't have lots of experience evaluating and hiring agencies, here are some tips on what to think about in engaging the right creative partner for you.
1 - Consumer Insight - do your potential creative partners demonstrate keen insights about consumers - and in particular your consumers? Can they share wisdom and insight about what makes your consumers tick and how to connect to them in meaningful ways? Can they share client success stories about how they've helped others achieve their branding objectives via consumer insights?
2 - Strategy - great creative that moves the needle is a balance of both arresting creative and sound strategy that guides it. Look for a creative partner who appreciates - and gives voice to - the importance of strategy/planning etc. to the creative process.
3 - Creative - do you actually like the creative work that they do? Does the agency demonstrate the ability to develop big ideas to solve their client’s branding challenges? Can they come up with big ideas and then execute them creatively?
4 - Terms - do they offer a set of business terms that you're comfortable with? Do you get the sense that they are trying to be fair with you or are they charging you an enormous retainer and marking up every little thing to 'nickel and dime' you? These days in particular, you probably have more negotiating power than you think. Use it to come to terms that make sense to you.
5 - Attention - will your business with them be large enough to get a significant amount of the agency’s attention going forward? Many clients have lamented that after their business was awarded to the agency, they never saw or heard from senior agency folks - or felt important to them - again. Make sure that you’ll be a big enough account to matter to them.
Finally, agencies typically want to rush to show you the creative that they've done for other clients. While this may sound somewhat counter-intuitive, be hesitant to dive right into a creative discussion. When things go wrong with agency relationships, the problem typically isn't just with the creative, but more often in the strategic inputs that drive the creative development process. Talk about the business, your consumers, the competitive landscape, your business and marketing objectives etc. - and then let the creative conversation flow from that. Agencies can be enormously helpful partners to you; these tips can help you have the most productive relationship with them from the start.