Features You Want In An Agency (But Might Not Realize)

There are many different agencies out there: some that specialize in PR, some in Advertising, some in Marketing, some exclusively in Digital. With so many options, it can be difficult to pick the right fit for you. Regardless of what services you’re wanting, there are several traits that your agency needs to possess if they’re going to aid in your success.

Informality: Suits kill Creativity

If your agency is like most, you’ll be working with the same one or two people each time you make an on-site visit. While you might feel comfortable with them, alone, they don’t represent a very telling indicator of the agency’s culture- and the culture is important. If it’s possible, take a peek into the bull pit and check out the other employees. Watch the way they interact with each other. Although it might seem borderline unprofessional at times, if your agency has an informal vibe, it’s probably a good thing. If the employees seem to produce a casual working space, they’re more likely to be friends. And if they’re friends, they’re more likely to work well together (on your projects! After all, two heads are better than one!).

But it’s about more than just the interaction; check out the working space too. Maybe the office isn’t the tidiest, or maybe there are posters on the walls filled with curse words. Are the interns mixed in with other people or off to themselves? Speaking from personal experience, agencies that operate their day-to-day work in complete silence don’t foster a welcoming environment. On the other hand, bouts of chitchat or music create an environment where employees are not afraid to pitch ideas to the team or their superiors, even if those ideas are very different than what’s been done in the past. Because creativity is allowed (and even expected) from all members of the agency, your campaign has more room to live, to grow, to shine.

Candor: Say No

It might be tempting to associate exclusively with “yes men;” after all, it is nice to receive constant validation of your thoughts and ideas. However, surrounding yourself with people who always agree with you is actually a detriment to your campaign.

You don’t necessarily need a contrarian, but working with an agency that is willing to tell you ‘No’ is truly invaluable. First of all, if you’ve selected your agency well, they have experience. They know what they’re talking about, and there’s probably a very good reason they’re prepared to say No. Second, not all ideas are good ones. (Your kindergarten teacher might have told you otherwise. She was lying.) When executed, a bad idea will end up costing you money, or worse, clients. You have to trust that your agency will be willing to reject your suggestions sometimes-- if they don’t, they don’t really have your best interests in mind.

Online Presence: Walk the Walk

Today’s age is increasingly digital. Even your grandma can pick up her cell phone and visit Facebook, so there’s absolutely no reason your agency of choice shouldn’t have a digital presence. Especially if you expect the agency to be doing your social media, they need to have at least three digital platforms themselves. (For most, that would be an active website, Twitter, and Facebook. However, there are other options such as Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Blogs, Podcasts, etc.)

Although it’s a simple feature, if an agency is going to talk the talk, they need the walk to back it up. Otherwise, why would you expect to gain results?

Drive/Ambition: It’s not Okay to be Okay

Unlike in golf, in life, being subpar is not good enough. There are so many people who just “scoot by” in life. They do alright for themselves, but they could do so much better if they applied extra work, if they had the drive to climb higher. If your agency “scoots by,” they should not be your agency. If you want your campaign to be noticed, if you want your product to be successful, complacency is not an option.

It’s important that your agency has the desire to charge forward with you into new realms. Can they provide you with that sense of magic? With the thrill or wow-factor of a great idea? If not, why are you still with them?

The founder of our agency has made it clear to each of us that his goal for this agency is to be “The Absolute Fucking Best.” Realistically, every agency should strive to be TAFB. If they don’t, their work for you won’t improve over time, and your competitors who do use an agency with TAFB mentality will leave you behind in the dirt.

Communication: Sharing is Caring

Think of you and your agency as a married couple: communication strengthens your bond. It’s how you discover more about each other, and it’s how you become more invested in the success of the other.

You don’t have to be in constant communication with your agency, but you do want communication to be frequent. The more often your agency is in touch, the better of an idea they’ll have as to what it is that you want. They’ll also become more familiar with your brand and have an enhanced vision as to what it will take to make it sparkle.

An important disclaimer: your agency should be contacting you, not the other way around. Of course, there will be exceptions. But for the most part, your agency should be on top of things, often fixing problems before you’ve realized they’re there. You have to trust that they’ll communicate with you when they need to, but that you’ve given them a long enough leash that their creativity isn’t shackled to the theoretical chain link fence.   

Smaller: David took down Goliath

Just because an agency has a big name does not mean they’ll be the right fit for you. Although this isn’t always the case, oftentimes larger agencies are quicker to become complacent. They worked hard in the past, now they’ve earned the right to coast. Or because they have more to lose, they are less likely to try out a big new idea. After all, the only place to go from the top is back down.

Smaller agencies, on the other hand, are still striving to reach their peak. They’re more willing to run with an idea that is truly original, more likely to work harder to prove their worth. And the employees of smaller agencies are going to be the ones who are clustered together, forging friendships that will benefit your projects. Because a smaller agency will have fewer clients, you will be a bigger priority. You can forge a stronger connection with people who care more about your well being (certainly more than they care about a dollar sign on a bill).

It’s more fun to root for the underdog anyway.

This blog is brought to you by Rethink Creative Group, a Creative Agency specializing in boosting client growth through digital marketing. Some of our services include: photography, social media, design, and digital advertising. Want to grow your business? Check out our podcast called Brand Junkies. Each week we interview highly successful business owners and executives to talk about how they're growing their brand.