Seeking Professional Help -- For Marketing
Business could always be better. And one way to help it get
better is seeking some professional help for your marketing.
Maybe you dont need a big ad agency, but could your
companys graphics use a boost? Is your advertising working?
You might even be able to find vendor funding to help your
budget. We are blessed in the inland northwest with some excellent
talent when it comes to marketing consulting for business.
Heres how to go about hiring some of it.
FIRST, LOOK AROUND AND ASK AROUND
A little research can save you a lot of time. In Spokootenai
County youll find over a hundred total ad agencies,
PR firms and graphic designers listed in the new Yellow Pages.
Plus over 60 web designers! Add the audio-video-film producers
and printers, and youve got a lot of experts to choose
from when it comes to professional help for marketing.
Pay closer attention to local advertising and graphics. If
a company has a look you like in their ads, their logo, signs,
brochures, their websites, call and ask who does their work.
Ask the sales managers of media and printing companies to
give you some recommendations of good, professional firms.
Theyll likely give you several choices. Heck, you can
even call me for recommendations.
HOLD AN AUDITION
Issue a Request for Proposal/Qualifications (RFP/Q) to the
firms recommended. Give an idea of the scope of work you need
and can afford. Ball park estimates are OK. Ask for experience,
resumes, client list, success stories, billing information.
Also ask what they think they can do for you...no specifics
or speculative campaigns, please! Invite three firms to make
a formal presentation for your business. Then use these considerations
to evaluate them:
CONSIDERATIONS FOR HIRING AN ADVERTISING/PR AGENCY, MEDIA
BUYER OR GRAPHIC DESIGN FIRM:
What specific experience does the agency have in your business
or industry category? If they dont have any, ask for
other relevant experience What do they know about your industry?
How fast can they learn? Do they know whats going on
in Spokane, the northwest, the nation? What are their success
stories? Ask these questions of your AE as well.
One of the most important factors in a client/agency relationship
is chemistry. While it is hard to quantify, you
should be aware of it from the beginning. Look at their thinking,
personalities, work ethic... Do I trust them and their
judgment? Do I trust them with my job and my business? (The
work your agency does reflects directly on you and your business.)
Are these people going to be fun to work with? Will I look
forward to meeting with them on a regular basis?
Obviously this is critical. You want an agency that is creative,
one that can do the quality work you want. Ask for a limited
number of samples...various media. Case histories are a good
way to get a feel of the way the agency approaches the job...what
was the problem or opportunity, what was the objective, how
did you solve it, what were the results?) But also talk (in
person) to the people who will be doing the creative. Talk
with them about their philosophies on doing their
job. Do they look at this business as art? Or
do they know they are trying to sell stuff? How easy are they
to get along with? Are they prima donnas or are they down
to earth? Are they going to get mad about revisions and deadlines?
Again, case histories will tell a good story here. Get a
rundown on how they serve their clients...how do they buy?
Ask about experience with similar clients. Ask for a current
client media plan (no client name)..how easy is it to read?
Do I know what Im getting? Can I explain it to my boss?
Have they had occasion to go up against a national media buying
firm? What were the results? Meet face to face with the buyer...what
is their philosophy, their relationship with media, their
Who is your day to day rep going to be? How smart is this
person? What is their individual experience? How long have
they been in the business? Can they think on their feet?
Ask them to give you an example (case history) of their strategic
thinking. Ask them for their view of this market and your
particular business. Ask what their plan is to help your business
Ask to see a sample invoice. How easy is it to read and understand?
What do they bill for? Copies, phone calls, faxes, postage?
What is their hourly creative rate? Do they give estimates
before starting a job? What is their markup, commission, and
fee structure? What is their credit reputation with suppliers
and the media?
Check them out confidentially with media and suppliers. What
is the agency like to deal with? What is their reputation
in the business...in the community? What is the downside?
Their greatest asset, their weakness?
Does the agency have conflicting accounts in your business
category? Are they willing to resign them to handle your business?
If they are working with one of your competitors, how will
they treat your proprietary information? Who gets the best
ideas and best promotions?
After all the pitches, presentations and promises...it all
boils down to three things:
- How good is the advertising, PR or graphics these people
- Can I get the respect, creativity, brains, service and
media expertise I need from them and still have a good time?
Are they easy to work with?
- Do I like them and do I trust them with my business?
After you hire a firm, let them do their work. A good marketing
or design consultant can make a real difference in your business.
They can provide a view of your company that you cant
see...an outside view. Dont second guess everything
they tell you. Give their ideas a chance to work for you.
Chances are business will get better.