A few days ago I posted the first of a two-part series on
making the marriage between a client and a creative agency work. The first part
offered a few tips on how to get the most out of your relationship with your
agency and thus maximize the return on your investment.

Today, we continue with the second part of our series by
sharing some thoughts on what you should look for when choosing an agency.
Creative firms exist in all sizes with varied approaches to their craft.
There's definitely one out there that's perfect for you. The following suggestions
make one important assumption: that you're looking for a firm that will be a genuine
partner that can bring valuable ideas to the table. If, by contrast, you are
looking for a production artist that will simply follow your instructions these
suggestions probably won't help much with your decision making.

Vertical Expertise. An agency can do better and more
effective work for you if they have deep experience in your industry as opposed
to a little bit of knowledge of dozens of industries. Your family physician
certainly has broad experience in many areas of medicine, but you wouldn't
select him or her to perform delicate brain surgery. Sometimes you need
specialists. The same holds true with creative agencies.

Strategery (with apologies to Will Ferrell). Look for a
creative firm that is passionate about doing work that is both wildly creative
and strategic at the same time. It's true that creativity sells, but it will
sell more if the agency has done its homework and is targeting the right audience,
is communicating a finely crafted message and is recommending the right media
outlets. Strategic without creative is not any better. You really need both.

Multiple Talents. A well-rounded creative team should
have talent in lots of areas such as concepting, writing, design, photography
and/or photo art direction, research and more. A firm can have these skills on
their paid staff or have access to them through relationships built over years. A
campaign that is nicely designed but poorly written doesn't do justice to your
brand. A one-trick pony usually leaves the audience underwhelmed.

A final thought, do awards matter? Well, yes and no.
Great work wins awards. It's that simple. So a great firm is going to have
plenty of awards that they can rightfully boast about. However, if you ever get
the feeling that your agency is steering you in a certain direction just for
the sake of winning an award instead of focusing on an overall winning strategy, begin
looking for another agency.


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