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Selecting the “RIGHT” Creative Agency for your Brand?

October 1, 2011

Read the following article and do leave you comment ….

Here are some tips and things to consider when picking an ad agency partner for your financial institution.

1. Results
To see how business focused an agency is, ask them about their results. What did it do? How much did it accomplish? You’ll learn a lot about what an agency thinks is important by what they measure.

2. “Funny” Does Not Always Mean “Money”
Don’t fall in love with an ad agency just because they show you a bunch of funny spots. Just because a campaign is funny doesn’t mean it got any results. It’s always easier to make funny ads than ads that really work. An agency’s portfolio could be full of humor without ever having one piece that was on-strategy and achieved the intended results.

3. The Portfolio Isn’t Everything
Beware of agencies who believe blindly in the “power of creativity,” especially their power of creativity. There are many agencies who expect to be hired on the strength of their portfolio alone. But you need to remember that their creative output is only one component in creating a healthy, productive partnership.

4. Meet the Head Honcho
Ask to meet the owner, president or chief principal of the agency. If they won’t meet you, then you’ll know you won’t be an important client.

5. The Creative Brief
If you really want to know how an agency approaches their work, ask to see their “Creative Brief” (or similar). This document typically outlines the specifics and parameters of a project — the objectives, due dates, budget, metrics, message, tone, style, disclosures, etc. Assuming they have a creative brief, look carefully at the questions they ask. It will give you a good sense of their strategic acumen. If they don’t have one, you’ll have to find out about their process and approach some other way.

6. Proof of Process
Ask the agency to show you a completed creative brief they feel was useful/helpful. Ask to see concepts they came up with for another client. How many do they typically come up with? Have them explain which concept was picked and why. See how they feel about revisions. You want to get a sense of their process, and how adept they are at translating strategies into ideas with results.

7. Evaluate Your Account Exec
Who will be your primary point of contact at the agency? Are they a detail-oriented person? How do they manage budgets? Schedules? How will they keep you updated? And the personalities have to mesh. If you don’t like your account exec (or vice versa), the relationship is doomed from the start. And do what you can to sniff out whether the account exec will really be handing your projects off to a junior account coordinator fresh out of school. Sometimes, account execs only have time for the really important clients and act merely as a figurehead while subordinates actually manage the relationship.

8. Integrated Marketing Capabilities
If you have a dynamite in-house team, you may not need a full-service agency for everything — creative, online/interactive, point-of-purchase, media planning/buying and public relations. But you definitely want an agency that — at the very least — thinks about all this stuff. Offline media is not dead. In fact, it is very much still a central part of most successful campaigns.

9. Balance
Make sure the agency doesn’t favor one approach or communications channel too heavily. If you deal with a vendor who is strong at online marketing, you may, for instance, find that all their solutions include a microsite. But what about traditional media? Will they know how to promote their microsite through offline channels?

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