Advertising Agencies – what are they?

Advertising Agencies – what are they? What do they do? And why do you need one?

People generally have misconceptions about what an Advertising Agency is and exactly what they do.

Not many people realise or understand that advertising or marketing agencies are in fact another business service available to business owners to help maximise their return on investment. Many businesses outsource their accounting, legal and HR services to industry professionals, as they simply don’t have the required skills, expertise or time that allows them to optimally fulfill these business necessities themselves. Marketing and Advertising is exactly the same!

The purpose of an Advertising Agency – what can they do for you?

There are several purposes, in addition to the expert advice and years of experience at your fingertips, which come with using a reputable marketing or advertising agency. Independent advice, buying power and convenience are major draw cards for many businesses when it comes to engaging the services of an advertising agency.

Is an Ad Agency right for me ??

There comes a point in the lifecycle of many businesses when the marketing needs of the business have out grown the resources available in house. Whether you’re looking for a partner to help you implement a major campaign or a boutique agency to focus on one marketing niche, an agency can prove to be a great investment in the longevity of your business.

Aren’t they expensive ?

Just because a business is small does not mean it can’t afford an agency. There’s a mistaken belief that advertising agencies are too expensive.  A boutique ad agency will work with you and within your allocated budget to get you the most cost effective campaign for your dollars.

What to consider when selecting an agency to help you with your advertising and marketing needs . . . 

  1. Industry Experience

Try to choose an agency that has experience working with other businesses within your industry. You’ll benefit from their previous experience and learn from their previous success and failures.

  1. Size

Do you want to be a Big fish in little pond, or a little fish in big pond?  Working with a big agency has many benefits, however often smaller agencies provide you with more personal, hands on, creative approach.  Depending on your budget you may find yourself not getting as much attention as other businesses with bigger accounts. Partnering with a boutique agency may lead to a better service experience and therefore better results.

  1. Cost

Before committing to an agency make sure you’re aware of their fess and creative costs.

Do they operate on a creative retainer basis?  Charge management fees? etc

Different agencies work in different ways, so look for transparency with billing, especially with media placement. Nobody likes hidden costs or nasty surprises at the end of the month.

  1. Look for a full service agency with integrated capabilities

Make sure you choose an advertising agency that can provide a full marketing support (creative design, media planning/buying, public relations, video production, web/digital)

Look for an agency that can provide not only press advertising, but TV, radio, out of home, and digital media, as well as printing, web design and public relations and make sure the agency has its own design studio in-house.   It’s this integration of creative and media strategy that gives clients a competitive edge.

Make sure you know who you are partnering with. A lot of agencies say they are Full Service but few actually have all the specialty expertise available IN-HOUSE. You may also have your own dynamic in-house team, therefore not require a full service agency for everything, but you should consider an agency that at the very least has this integrated approach that is will to work with your team.

  1. References

Ask for references or case studies. Ask each Agency to provide you with a list of clients that you can contact. Were these clients happy and back up what they agency has offered you? Did the clients experience any problems?

  1. Fit

What is the culture of the agency? Who are the people you will be working closely with?  Is there a fit with you and your business? Will they share your passion and help you achieve your goals and vision for the business?

  1. Comprehension

Do they understand your business and your business goals and objectives? Do they ask good questions and listen carefully?

  1. Portfolio

Creativity is vital in advertising and marketing. Ask to see the agencies prior work. Do their designs and ideas fit with your business needs and are they on brief? A lot of agencies will brag about the awards they have won, and that’s great; but listen to the ones that talk about how they have worked closely with their clients to reach the clients goals and objectives.

  1. Project Management/Outsourcing

Ask how the agency handles large projects. For larger ad campaigns some agencies will need to outsource one or more of the project elements. A good agency knows how to differentiate between which items the agency can do exceptionally well, and which elements to outsource. If their answer is direct and detailed, you will know they experience or have thought of how to handle these projects.

  1. Meet the Head Honcho

If the head honcho hasn’t met you, it can be safe to assume you’re not one of the ‘big’ or ‘important’ clients, so make yourself known.  Ask who will be working on your account and what the company’s account handling structure is.  It’s vital to build up a relationship with your account manager as they will become a key part of your business. Also make sure the head honcho knows who you are

Advertising and marketing agencies can offer real value and boost your business (big or small) by providing you with the expertise, tools and assistance you need to reach your goals and promote your business more professionally.  But evaluate and select your advertising partner carefully. There are many agencies to choose from and not all are going to be right for you.