Choosing a creative agency can be a daunting and confusing task. This is a partner, not a one off product, so there’s a little more involved and a larger investment than choosing sandwiches or salads for that team meeting. Assuming you like their work and are ready to reach out, here are some helpful things to think about before pulling the trigger.
1. Trust your gut—do you like the people you are thinking about working with? The best work will come from collaboration. It’s really important that you have a great synergy and feel like they understand you, your company, and where you are going. No excellent work gets created in a vacuum, so people you can be honest with and that identify how you are part of the process are key.
2. No nickel and diming– does the agency have this crazy extreme contract, charge for every little thing, and overall make you feel like you are sure if you will be charged just for asking questions? That’s a bad way to start. A company that is open to helping you be successful and builds in room for growth and change in your project is a really good sign that you will be working with someone who cares about your growth and success and will work hard to be a part of it.
3. Call references- What do their past clients think of them? Ask them about their experience and dig a little bit. What was the process like? Are you happy with the results? Anything I should know? Any stumbling blocks? This will help you get an honest sense of how they work.
4. Do they listen? So you’ve sat down with them a couple times now. Were the things that you deemed important in the proposal they presented? If you met with them again did they ask the same questions or were they able to have a firm grasp on what you spoke about the first time? Being a good listener is a huge part of how creatives successfully translate your needs into a workable vision. Some creatives come in a bowl you over with their knowledge and ideas, but you know your business best and it’s really important to work with a company that is willing to listen and hear what you are facing and take that information and apply it to the project along with their expertise.
5. Excitement for your business- Have you had to pull teeth just to get them to call you back, or follow up on receiving a proposal in a timely manner? These are red flags that you aren’t very important to them. You want to find a company that values your business and will give you the attention you need to get a final product you are stoked about.
6. Locality. If you are a small local business, you might want to consider staying closer to home. Frequent meetings, and seeing proofs in person, just knowing there’s someone who can meet you for lunch face to face if you have concerns goes a long way to coping with miscommunications that can happen when people are translating goals into measurable creativity.
7. Processes in place. Ask them to detail their process. It should have a strategic component and depending on the size and scope include formal market research, user experience driven design for a website, and overall sync up with your business goals. If they are shooting from the hip there’s a good chance that the end result won’t take you very far.
8. Examples of projects similar to yours. Ask for samples of their work and case studies too. This will help you better assess what you are looking at from a more objective angle. At the end of the day branding and marketing are an investment and you want it to pay off so seeing results and have them explain how they achieved these results will help confirm that they are legitimate and credible.
Good luck in your search! For small business branding and marketing I heard Hey Now! Media does awesome work 😉
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