Why do I need a creative agency?
The best creative agencies think outside of the box, look at alternative approaches and take on board different angles and perspectives. Combine this with their expert designers and strategists and it can really take your marketing to the next level.
Choosing the right creative agency is a bit like dating – get it wrong and you can go through a painful and expensive break up – so a bit of homework up front can save a lot of heartache down the way.
How do you go about the tricky process of finding a creative agency?
You may start by entering a search on Google and looking through creative agency websites, or even on the Recommended Agency Register. However, there are so many agencies to choose from and they all look very similar on paper. How do you know that they are not just a one-man band or a huge international agency that will want to charge ridiculous fees? How do you know if they will understand you or come up with a design you like?
Forever Creative Manchester – How to shortlist creative agencies…
1) Decide which skills you want the creative agency to provide
How exactly do you want them to help you? Some of our clients come to us with a detailed annual marketing strategy and need help implementing individual elements of the plan such as creative for an Out of Home (OOH) campaign or designing a landing page for a digital competition.
However, in most cases our clients don’t have their marketing plan down to a fine art and are just looking for an agency that can come up with a creative strategy to help them achieve their marketing goals.
A creative agency should dovetail with your in-house skills and be flexible enough to help out just where they are needed most. Beware of agencies that aren’t open to discussions about implementing systems that will enable your team to manage a portion of the work themselves.
2) Decide which type of agency you need
There are two main types of creative agencies – specialists who supply a particular service e.g. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Public relations (PR) or Video production and fully integrated creative agencies who will have a broad range of expertise in-house. If your company requires services that will cross multiple marketing disciplines such as strategy for a marketing plan, you will be best suited with a fully integrated creative agency.
3) Decide if location is an important factor for you
Theoretically, it doesn’t really matter where your agency is located. Forever Creative is based in Manchester, but we work with clients throughout the UK. Most projects can be conducted via phone, e-mail or online. However if your requirement has a strategic element, in our opinion there is no substitute for meeting face-to-face. When short-listing, try to have a balance of creative agencies based in your region e.g. Manchester and those that are based a little further afield.
4) Start a conversation
It is tempting to seek out creative agencies that have experience in your industry sector, however, this is not strictly necessary. If you want to truly stand out in a crowded marketplace, new and innovative thinking is required. It is better to ask for their understanding and experience of similar marketing problems and judge on the ability to bring fresh and relevant ideas.
Ask for their creative agency ratecard. Agencies vary widely in how they charge however they are all the same in that they are selling their time. Some offer a ‘blended rate’ i.e. an hourly rate or daily rate that includes all aspects of their service. Others will charge different members of their team at different rates e.g. you will pay more for a Creative Director than you will for a junior.
Ask who will be your project manager, with some smaller agencies you may work direct with designers, however, this will only work if you want the very simplest of design support.
Now you are ready…
One of the best ways to see if you like working with an agency is to give them a small paid project to undertake for you. It is always a good idea to ask a few agencies to cost up the project up front.
A lot of agencies will ‘buy in‘ services from third parties on your behalf. This saves you time and you will benefit from the agency’s expertise in project management. However, most agencies are open in the fact that they will ‘mark up’ these services in order to cover their time.
If you would rather buy the print or book the media yourself then let them know; a great creative agency always works with their clients to get the maximum ROI on their marketing spend!
During the project pay close attention to how they conduct themselves. Are they open and up front about their fees? Do they take the time to find out about your business? And the most important question of all, did they deliver work of a certain quality that you should expect from a creative agency?
If you would like to get in touch Forever Creative Manchester to hear about our ability to create campaigns, re-ignite brands and produce artwork to a high standard across a range of disciplines, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.