Five Things to Look for When Picking an Advertising Agency

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There may come a time in your business life when you cannot handle your own advertising "in-house". Whether the cost of personnel outweighs what they can do in advertising or you've simply gotten too big to keep up with ensuring your name is in the public's mind, an advertising agency can be a wonderful help.

Of course, you want to get the right agency for your needs, and you don't want to mortgage your firstborn's future to hire them. So what do you look for to get the best possible outcome?

Look for a Professional
First, you need to remember that you're hiring a business. It's wonderful to be friendly with those with whom you work, but being able to have a professional relationship is much better. Hiring someone you like won't do you a darn bit of good if they can never meet a deadline, or the work is consistently shoddy.

On the other hand, you don't want to feel like you have to gear up for battle every time you talk to the advertising agency, so you do want a fine balance between friendliness and pure professionalism. Every person has a different comfort level. If you can identify yours before you start the process of finding an advertising agency, you'll be way ahead of the game.

Large vs. Small
Size may count when looking for an advertising agency. A huge agency may not give you the personal attention you want, especially if you're a small business, but they may have resources and personnel available that small agencies can only dream about. Very often, large agencies may receive some type of discount for placing advertising in certain mediums, and they may figure that discount into their pricing package, meaning they may be able to provide more bang for your buck.

Looking on the flip side of the coin, a small agency may be eager for your business, and may offer competitive rates or very personal attention. Perhaps you just want to make a bigger splash in your local market, and don't need the resources of a multinational advertising agency. If you have a niche product to sell, or if you need someone who understands the customer base in your particular region, a smaller advertising agency may provide the perfect service. As you've found already while running your own business, you need to do your research. When deciding to use an advertising agency, you'll need to know what you need and/or want. Only then will you be able to get the personalized attention you need.

Experience Counts
Next on the list of things to look for when picking an advertising agency is experience. You'll want to look at agencies that have experience in your type of business. Hiring an agency that knows all about salon shampoos when you have a heavy equipment dealership might not be a wise idea. Of course, a good advertising agency could overcome the deficit of knowledge, and it may be a chance you want to take. However, do so with your eyes wide open.

Along those lines, you'll also want to look for what demographics they're used to dealing with. An agency that seems to have a plethora of teen-centered clients may not be the best fit for a business that is senior-oriented. Again, this is a decision you will need to make for yourself, weighing the pros and cons, to decide what will benefit your business the most.

Can the Agency Handle Your Budget?
You will also want to find out what the budget size is for the agency's client base. What does that mean? You will have a budget that you want to spend on advertising. If you hire an advertising agency that has never handled a budget of six figures before, and you're giving them one of seven or more figures, more than likely the agency is not going to be able to give you what you want for the simple fact they don't have the experience. Of course, the reverse can be true as well: if the average budget size of the client base is in the millions of dollars and your budget is barely into five figures, you will probably want to start looking for an agency with experience in squeezing the most out of every drop of your tight budget.

Traffic Tracking and References
You will want to find an advertising agency that is willing to give you hard facts about the amount of "traffic" or sales a client has realized through the agency's advertising campaign. While a client's privacy should be sovereign, an agency should have a list of clients that are willing to give references or allow a percentage increase to be handed out, if the client likes the agency, or if the agency actually has increased the client's sales or traffic. An agency that is unwilling to disclose such information may have very good reasons. However, they may also be hiding something that could ultimately negatively affect your company. Remember, advertising without results is just a waste of your business budget and resources.

You should definitely be looking for references when seeking to hire an advertising agency. If an agency has done a good job, and their advertising campaigns have meant an increase in business for the clients, then said clients should be more than willing to give a letter of recommendation or accept an occasional phone call to verify that the agency is recommended.

Even better would be to receive a recommendation by word of mouth. Having another company tell you that the ZZZ Agency did amazing things for their company's bottom line is a compelling reason to seek out ZZZ Agency.

In Conclusion
Ultimately, when picking an advertising agency you're going to make a highly personalized decision. Turning over any aspect of your business may seem like giving away a child. However, to make your business successful (and hopefully that includes profitable), you will need to delegate. If you choose your advertising agency wisely, keeping in mind the above points, you should have a wonderful experience--and your company should be highly visible in a short period of time.

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