ARCHIVED  August 1, 1997

How to choose an ad agency

It’s probably one of the toughest decisions a business has to make: Pick an ad agency that creates a good image of your company, and it’s likely to grow quickly. Choose the wrong one, and potential clients may be driven away.

Every ad agency has samples of its work. Compare the styles of several agencies before choosing the one that’s right for you. If your business style is informal, for example, you’ll probably run into problems with an agency specializing in a corporate “look.”

If an agency is known for creating high-recognition pieces for small startups, it may not be the best choice for an established mortgage firm.

On the other hand, an agency that serves many different types of clients still can be successful. Look for ad campaigns and promotional materials for large or small companies that have gotten results. Previous ads from the company should promote, explain and sell. Look for clear ideas in advertising samples, executed in a simple manner.
Experience is also important. Does the agency know how to find creative solutions to problems your business may face? Has it dealt with other businesses like yours in the past?
Find out the agency’s business philosophy, and make sure it corresponds with yours. Do employees listen to clients when they ask questions? Is the process between the agency and clients collaborative?
As graphic-design firms start moving in on traditional ad-agency territory, it’s also important to find out if the firm you choose works on the type of advertising you need. Advertising now can include everything from corporate identity pieces such as letterhead and business cards to Web-site design.
Check with existing clients to see if they’re happy with the services they’ve gotten. If it’s important to your business, make sure that the ad agency’s ethics and philosophies match those of your business.
Once you’ve made your decision, check the company’s billing procedures. Checking the list of what you’ll be charged for in the beginning means fewer misunderstandings later.

It’s probably one of the toughest decisions a business has to make: Pick an ad agency that creates a good image of your company, and it’s likely to grow quickly. Choose the wrong one, and potential clients may be driven away.

Every ad agency has samples of its work. Compare the styles of several agencies before choosing the one that’s right for you. If your business style is informal, for example, you’ll probably run into problems with an agency specializing in a corporate “look.”

If an agency is known for creating high-recognition pieces for small startups, it may not be the best…

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