We recently came across an article on NFIB.com that gave some great tips for selecting an ad agency or design firm. I’ve highlighted the tips below and the full article can be found at this link.

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Selecting a firm to assist with your marketing is one of the most important decisions a small business can make. Often, it will involve a trade-off between quality and price — or at least between experience and price. Some full-service agencies setup to work with only deep-pocket corporations. Many smaller firms, however, provide excellent service at more reasonable rates.

The following steps can help you determine which firm can serve your needs while fitting within your budget.

1.  Ask other small-business owners for recommendations.
If an ad agency or graphics firm has performed well for others at a reasonable rate, it’s likely the company will do the same for you.

2. Before meeting with firms, prepare by gathering all information they’ll need to make suggestions.
These include: your present marketing materials, your goals and timelines, your vision of the image you would like your company to have, your budget, etc.

3. Ask to see samples of work done for previous or existing clients.
The work should resonate with you. If not, you should move to your next interview because it’s often hard for an agency to revamp the style of work it does.

4. Ask about fees.
You’ll need to know a ballpark figure to determine if you can afford to work with them.

5. Visit the agency’s offices.
You’ll be able to tell a lot about an agency by how their space feels. It is orderly or is it a mess? Does the staff seem dedicated?

6. Ask about the people who will be doing the work on your account.
Firms range in size from independent entrepreneurs to large, full-service agencies employing hundreds. No matter how large, however, individuals within the agencies undertake creative decisions and create the final product. For this reason, a one-person shop may do even better work for you than a large agency.

7. Does the person who will be doing your work understand and share the vision you have of your marketing goals?
This is probably the most important factor in the selection process. When starting work with an agency, don’t get locked into a long-term contract. Start slowly and commit gradually.

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