Your advertising agency works directly with you and other brands to create a variety of advertising campaigns for print, television, radio, and digital media. These agencies are staffed with teams that usually include graphic designers, content specialists, and account managers who work together to cohesively build effective and strategic advertising campaigns. In some cases, agencies may also offer additional services such as photography, video production, or billboard displays. Here are just a few other types of agencies and the services they provide:
- Full-service agencies handle all types of advertising projects and work in aspects of the advertising process, including ad design, media buying, and strategy – they’re generally larger agencies with a full staff of creative, marketing, and directorial teams.
- Boutique agencies have a small group of professionals offering customized services and typically only handle ad creation. They usually don’t take on tasks such as strategic planning and media buying.
- Media buying agencies don’t offer creative services but instead buy and sell media space, such as televison commercials, radio spots, and print advertising.
- Digital advertising agencies focus on mobile and internet advertising, including social media platforms, Google Ads, and search engine optimization.
If you have a specific business objective related to growth, market share, brand awareness, or sales revenue, you may be in the market for an advertising agency. Here is the best way to find and hire an agency to best meet your business goals.
- Determine what you want to advertise and why.
- Narrow down your search to specific types of agencies
- Contact agencies on your short list and ask questions
- Make sure the agency understands your market and your advertising goals.
- Come up with an advertising budget in tandem with your ad agency.
- Confirm that the advertising strategy and creative content reflect your brand.
- Get regular reports on your advertising performance and hold your agency accountable.
- Understand ad campaign duration and when you can expect to see results.
Determine what you want to advertise and why.
There are many reasons that companies seek the help of an advertising agency, and before beginning your search, it’s important to first determine your goals. This might include establishing your brand, making customers aware of a new product or service you’re offering, expanding your social media following, or letting consumers know about an upcoming event or promotion.
It’s also necessary to think about which advertising medium or platform is best suited to deliver results on your objectives. Once you’ve determined your goals and advertising preferences, decide on a timeline and identify ways you may want to measure performance.
Narrow down your search to specific types of agencies.
Think about what type of advertising is going to best help you reach your end goal. If you’re looking to gain a loyal following, you might want to consider working with a digital advertising agency that can effectively promote your brand on social platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, to increase your engagement and follower count. If you’re looking to establish your brand’s identity, you may want to work with an agency that handles print and video advertising, too.
While full-service advertising agencies can typically handle all types of requests, smaller agencies are often less expensive and a better option for companies that don’t need a full host of advertising services. Consider which type of agency is best suited to your needs and goals.
ExperTip: Weigh the cost of contracting an ad agency against fulfilling your advertising needs in house. Yes, hiring an advertising agency comes with a cost. But it also comes with a breadth of skill sets that are difficult, and expensive, to meet with individual in-house positions. Consider that the average salary of an in-house marketing manager is $120,000, an in-house social media manager is around $50,000 and an in-house SEO manager is roughly $60,000. With a full-service advertising agency, you have access to professionals in each of these skill areas, at an average fee of $100 to $600 per hour, depending on your metro area. With an ad agency, you can also can choose specific advertising platforms, objectives and media spends, and allocate money only where you need it, only when you need it.
Contact agencies on your short list and ask questions.
Once you’ve set your goals and found some agencies you feel would be best suited to your needs, it’s time to start asking questions. When contacting an agency, you’ll likely be put in touch with an account manager or managing director who can answer all of your questions. Some important things to ask include:
- What industries do you serve?
- When it comes to advertising, what is your company’s best asset?
- Who is your ideal client and why?
- How do you manage when you have a high volume of clients?
- Do your employees have any special marketing or technology certifications?
- Is your creative team permanent staff or do you outsource?
- What is your process for maintaining communication with your clients?
- How do you measure results?
- What is your fee structure?
- What is your protocol when a client wants to end their relationship with you?
Make sure the agency understands your advertising goals.
Before going into your first meeting with your advertising agency, make sure to clearly document your goals. If you’re looking to increase sales, provide your agency with a specific and measurable goal along with a date that you want to achieve it by. Do the same for other goals, such as customer engagement, subscriptions, and follower counts. If you’re hiring an advertising agency to help you establish brand identity, discuss in detail how you want your customers to see your brand and find out how the agency plans to get you there.
Come up with an advertising budget in tandem with your ad agency.
When determining your advertising budget, it’s best to focus on spending a percentage of your gross sales. Most experts recommend spending between 7% and 8% of your revenue on advertising and marketing, and while that is a good starting point, it’s also important to make sure these funds are allocated appropriately. The best way to do this is to work directly with your advertising agency to determine how to channel your funds into the best advertising streams and set realistic expectations when it comes to your ROI.
Confirm that the advertising strategy and creative content reflects your brand.
Before diving in, make sure that the advertising firm you’re working with has taken the time to understand your brand and values. In addition to the questions mentioned earlier, you should consider asking your agency some of the following questions to ensure that its strategy is in line with your brand:
- Who do you see as our ideal customer?
- How will you differentiate our brand from our competitors?
- What makes your agency the best fit for our brand?
- Do you currently work with any of our competitors?
Get regular reports on your advertising performance and hold your agency accountable.
Once you’ve begun working with your advertising agency, make sure to maintain an open line of communication with them, especially when it comes to advertising performance. If your advertising campaign is digital, there are several metrics you should monitor regularly to ensure that your campaign is performing as expected. Ask your advertising agency for regular reports on the following metrics:
- Click-through rate
- Quality scores
- Cost per lead
- Cost per acquisition
- Campaign revenue
- Return on advertising spend
- Lifetime value
Whether your advertisement is featured online, in print, or on television, you can track some key performance indicators to determine if your advertising campaign is effective. This includes tracking your cost per acquisition or cost per lead. With video campaigns, you can also track time watched to determine if your ad is making an impression on those who see it.
Understand ad campaign duration and when you can expect to see results.
Advertising campaigns run for varying lengths of time, with the average campaign running for a period of six weeks to three months. While social media advertisements, such as Facebook, typically run about two weeks, print and video ad campaigns may be successful with longer durations.
When launching any new advertising campaign, it’s important to discuss ad campaign duration with your advertising agency and determine what your goals are within that time frame. If a campaign is not providing you with the results you expect during its run, you may want to reconsider your strategy and adjust.