Once you've decided that you need an advertising agency, use this checklist as a guideline for selecting the best possible one for your needs and goals.
When selecting an advertising agency, ask people from the agency to make a presentation to you, but don't ask them to spend a lot of money doing so. Listen to their words, hoping they will talk more about you than about themselves. Be aware of the emphasis they place on the importance of a strategy, for that strategy is crucial to you. See if they know how advertising fits into the overall marketing mix. Be wary if they speak only of advertising and nothing about marketing.
You must do everything in your power to know the difference between clever advertising and effective advertising. Be careful if the agency relies too much on the use of humor, for humor is often the enemy of effective advertising. Advertising gains power through repetition, but humor becomes weaker with repetition. If you're marketing candy or chewing gum, humor may help. But if you're marketing high-priced offerings, humor rarely leads to beautiful profit-and-loss statements.
Be sure that your advertising agency understands the crucial necessity for follow-up, that they are abreast of the growth of online marketing, and that they are up-to-date but not too far in advance of society.
You can learn about agencies, not only by their presentations, but also by walking around the agencies themselves. Look at their work in progress for other clients, and see for yourself their staff's passion and enthusiasm for creating advertising that works.
Be especially aware of advertising the agency has created that has run for a long time. That's a sure sign that it is successful. Be sure that the creative people are willing to experiment and test, to create materials that are timeless. Watch out if they create "vampire" advertising - the kind where cleverness, jokes, and special effects draw attention away from your offering.
The key to great advertising is to forget the advertising and be certain that the product or service is the star. Great advertising agencies produce advertising that creates a desire to buy. It is not supposed to make people say, "What wonderful advertising!" Instead, it is supposed to make people say, "I want that product."
Advertising creativity comes from knowledge. The more knowledge the agency's people possess, the more creative they can be. That means a powerful agency asks questions, listens to answers, engages in tireless research, and never stops learning.
Can your advertising agency help you engage in fusion marketing arrangements with others - where you combine marketing efforts to reach more people, but save money because you are sharing the cost? A top agency is able to use technology to the utmost but not rely too much on it. Its advertising begins with your offering and the reason you are in business in the first place - not with a snappy jingle or dazzling graphic approach.
Today it takes more effort than ever to break through the blizzard of advertising, much of which is simply copying other advertising that has won awards. Select an agency that is aware of this situation and knows what do to about it. Your success depends on your ability to select just that kind of agency.
Copyright © Jay Conrad Levinson 2000