How to Hire the Right Creative Agency
No matter the size of your business or your business goals, deciding on whether to hire an internal marketing team or to partner with an outside agency is something every company is going to be faced with sooner or later.
Business and revenue growth depends on scaling up with the right people in the right positions, all while working toward the same goal. You want what’s best for your business. And you’ll need to hire the right people. People that share the same vision, passion and values. These are the same ingredients that you should use when you’re looking to hire creative agency.
Just as you would carefully vet someone who was looking to invest in your business, or become a key part of your executive team, you should also look for certain criteria in a creative team. Make sure that they have your same interests at heart.
When you find the right fit, it’s a win-win for you and the agency — they succeed when you succeed. That’s why it’s important for an agency to assess your needs and understand how to reach your goals.
So, what should you be looking for in an agency partner?
At Straydog, we believe in these core items when it comes to finding the right fit:
You want quality work, but you don’t want to break the bank. Does the agency work on monthly retainers or are they project-based? Since you’re not paying for benefits and training, you can focus directly on what you’re getting for your money.
Monthly retainers are more predictable and allow for better working conditions, as you’re securing an agency for the length of a campaign. Project-based work can also work and are a good way to test out the potential relationship without a long-term contract. But sometimes, with project based work, the agency will need to fit your project in and around their other work. So if you’re going to engage in a longer-term relationship, with known quantities of work, with shorter completion times, a monthly retainer program, for a defined period of time, (ie, 6-months or 1 year) can be more beneficial.
In many situations, hiring an outside agency will be far-more cost effective than trying to hire, train, retain and provide space for an internal team. Keep this in mind when reviewing a quote from an outside agency. You’re not only hiring for their time, but more importantly, you’re hiring their experience, and it’s hard to put a price on experience.
Speaking about experience, you’ll want to hire an agency that has some history, with good working relationships with its clients. In our opinion, a good agency team serves multiple businesses in various industries to create a well-rounded base of expertise — and they’re always looking to broaden that experience.
We often get by prospective clients; “Do you have experience working in this industry”. Sometimes we do, but often we don’t. We think it’s far more important to look at the agencies process, their reviews and testimonials and their past work. These are a much better judgement of their capabilities and fit, than whether they have worked with 10 other companies in your same industry.
The right agency will add value to your business. Learn about their project processes and their team members. Are they taking a generalist or specialized approach to your journey?
At Straydog, we think it’s uber important to have a sound process, but it can’t be implemented in a cookie-cutter approach. It must be customized for each client. So check that you’re not just getting some templated strategy, the same as every other client that they’ve worked with. You’re special and jnot ust some random dog on the street, and as such, you deserve special treatment.
Innovation And Adaptability
A good agency is passionate about what they do and is always looking for innovative ways to optimize their work. Does the team excel at strategy building? Do they lead the way in the industry with their ideas and actions? Are they willing to grow with you?
In the same manner that you considered cost and quality, you’ll need to factor in time as well. You want efficiency, but you also don’t want the quality to suffer. Can you get set-up on a monthly or yearly plan? These types of plans build loyalty between you and the agency and can lead to even more cost-efficiencies as well as improving project tur-around times.
Let’s talk about what the right agency looks like.
The right agency offers what you need. If you are interested in doing a re-brand, then make sure the agency has a history of working with companies that have gone through the same thing. It’s also important that the agency has the team capabilities to fill-in all the blanks of along the way, such as having brand strategists, a graphic design team, people with an understanding of how to write using your company’s voice or are capable of interviewing relevant staff and capturing what they need.
However, if you’re in need of a new website, confirm that the agency has this experience with experience digital designers, developers, content writers and SEO specialists as part of their team that can take you all the way through the website re-design journey.
The most important component is the right fit.
If you want to get the most out of working with an agency, then you need to understand what they offer and how it overlaps with your needs. Add to that the key qualities fI’ve discussed here, and you’re on your way to hiring the right agency. From cost to experience to innovation and beyond, it’s important to understand what the right team needs to offer upfront to win your business.
Rob Barnett, Principal and Brand Strategist