In this space we have written about subjects of interest
to us as a creative agency – like developments in the world of advertising and
the power of creativity. We've also written about topics specific to our
clients and prospective clients – like tourism and foodservice insights,
statistics and trends. Today, we begin a two-part blog entry on making the
marriage between the two work. How can you make the most of the relationship
with your agency and what should you look for when choosing one?

Part One – Getting the greatest benefit from your agency.

Money spent with a good creative agency should be viewed
as an investment. You certainly want to get the maximum return on your
investment. After 18 years as a co-owner of a creative firm I could probably
write a book on this subject, but here are the most important tips that every
marketer should know.

Educate. If your agency is any good, they will ask a ton
of questions and do their homework getting to know your products/services. As
the client you should do everything possible to aid them in this process. It's
in both parties best interest because you want targeted and effective ideas and
believe me, your agency wants to give you their best work (Note: If you get
the vibe that they don’t care about excellence and are just going through the
motions, start looking for another agency.) Don't conclude prematurely that
you've spent enough time on this step and that you can always correct
inaccuracies later as you proofread. The education phase is crucial because it
gives the agency the best shot at discovering the differentiators that can make
your products stand above the competition. A great creative team gives
extensive thought to every detail of a design and every single word in an ad,
brochure or catalog. Make sure they're well informed and expending their
brainpower the right way.

Communicate. A lot. In order to do their best work on
time and on budget your creative firm needs to know as much as possible about,
well, your time frame and budget. Make sure your agency knows about the
approval process so that if it is layered and complicated extra time can be
allotted. Discuss budget issues early and often and be completely forthright
about the subject. Be sure to address any other complicating factors as well.
For example, are there certain criteria for using sub-contractors like
printers and videographers? There should be no surprises in the middle of the
creative process. Never knowingly withhold pertinent information because the agency didn't ask a question with enough specificity or because you want to see what ideas they come up with without the information.

Don't put them in a box. You've chosen to work with a
creative firm for a reason. They bring talent, expertise and a fresh
perspective to the table. Once you're convinced that the agency has a thorough
understanding of your product and your objectives, let them develop creative
solutions and hear them with an open mind. If you want something done a certain way because "it's the way we've
always done it" then shouldn't you have retained the firm that always did it
that way?

"Part Two – What to look for when selecting an agency" will
be posted in a few days. In the meantime, we’d like to hear your opinions on
the subject. You can post them here or e-mail comments to Your comments may be
included in a future post.


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