Ask an Agency: “What Am I Forgetting when Vetting an Agency?”

Welcome to Ask an Agency, an advice column where we answer your questions about graphic design, getting the best from your agency, and other hot topics for our customers.

“Q: What should I be considering as a potential client?”

I’m a recently promoted marketing leader who needs to pick a creative agency to help with some website projects and ongoing social media ads. As this is my first time leading an agency selection process, I want to make sure I’m making a good choice (and not making any big mistakes!). 

What should I be considering as a potential client? What should I be evaluating when it comes to a potential agency partner? 

– Excited But Nervous First-Time Client

“A: Here are 3 questions we advise you to ask any potential agency partner.”

There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right creative agency, especially if it’s your first time going through the request for proposal (RFP) process. 

To help, we’re sharing three questions we either commonly get asked or otherwise recommend you include as part of your agency search. 

“What’s your experience like with my industry?”
Chances are, agencies with relevant industry experience will float to the top of your short list. The more familiar your external creative team is with your industry, audience, and unique considerations, the faster onboarding will go and the more effective the work will be. 

While there are benefits to your agency understanding your particular industry, it can be worth exploring some potential partners even if they have less direct industry-specific experience. Your internal team knows your brand, audience, and messaging best, and this kind of context can be shared early on in discovery and built upon throughout an individual project and ongoing relationship together.

“Can we rely on you to take this and run with it?”
This question is great to ask for lower lift and higher volume projects like social media ads. You want the agency you choose to be able to get things done effectively and quickly, without your internal marketing team needing to provide a lot of detail or oversight. 

A lot of times, referencing and building on existing website copy and PDFs are substantial enough. Other times, an efficient discovery process with multi-stakeholder approval is necessary. An agency should be able to give you examples of what the process looks like for different types of projects. And it boils down to what is needed for your internal stakeholder approval.

What’s your process like?
This is a big question that should come with a significant answer. There are a lot of pieces that fall under this umbrella, from the usual day-to-day operations to less common but important things to remember.

Some things you’ll want to keep in mind (particularly as a first-timer):

  • How long will it take for your team to get up to speed?
  • What’s the collaboration process like?
  • How will we communicate together and how often?
  • How does billing work?
  • What can we expect regarding turnaround times for revisions?
  • What happens if we need out-of-scope work?

Don’t be bashful about asking questions. Every question you ask, and every answer you evaluate, will help you round out your experience with identifying and hiring great creative agencies. 

Have a question for Ask an Agency? Follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook to post your advice request (and get thoughts from our other followers), or contact us directly. You just might see your question get answered here sometime soon. 

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