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Things to consider when choosing your next creative agency

The last decade has put enormous pressures on creative agencies to adapt with chameleon-like ease to an ever-shifting marketing landscape.

The demands of this new order continues to test well-established principles within the industry as it expands and develops, driven largely by the digital technologies that continue to undergo exponential growth. Blink and you miss the next big thing.

Where once stood one fresh idea and a few strands of unique content now stands a suite of tailored strategies and a portfolio of repurposed material tweaked to fit seamlessly into a world of omnichannel experience where the expectations of audiences can vary as much as the platforms and deliveries.

Creative agencies need to design different messages that are delivered at different key points throughout different buyers’ journeys.

Planning, creating and maintaining a portfolio of relatable, shareable and clickable content for the multifarious platforms is not just art form in itself, it is also hugely time-consuming – and it is one clever on-the-button creative agency that will squeeze every ounce of value from their efforts to ensure your marketing campaigns works and at every level.

And, this is not just about reading words by the way. We are also talking rich content, which may mean text is repurposed to become blogs or news stories, or even scripted for podcasts and webinars. Or material may need to be condensed into nifty infographics or represented by strong images.

These may appear on your website – or even another reliable platform or shared by other media outlets via a PR agency, with links back to your brand.

And then there are the social media posts, which means tailoring content to meet the peculiarities of various apps and platforms.

60% of consumers would rather
watch a product video than read a product description

Source: KissMetrics

Design inspirations and inspiring people

Ultimately, when seeking a creative agency, it is important they not only understand the power of the creative but can also demonstrate enthusiasm and passion for your brief.

You need to buy into their culture and they need to understand yours. Is the team innovative, collaborative, proactive and reactive?

With your initial search, don’t rely on Google alone and consider industry listings and client referrals. If the agency has experience in your sector, hunt down their clients and speak to them.

And do look at campaigns that resonate and work backwards – try to track down who did the creative.

Agencies often have a leaning towards one form of creative over others – and essentially it is very much dependent on your business and its customers what one best builds your brand and where.

If your creative agency is looking to ‘throw mud at a wall’ in the hope your brand messages stick with someone, move on. Creative marketing is very much a bespoke service and an agency should be selective in approach as well as an understanding of your target audience.

Do they offer strategy, design, technology and advertising services or do they focus on just one or two areas?

Are they digitally literate? What does their branding say to you? Where do their strengths lie and do they dovetail with your own? Where do you want the emphasis on your marketing campaign?

Don’t choose a leading brand or base your choice on its experience alone. Newer agencies can sometimes add a different perspective, demonstrating the vitality and a fresh eye. Don’t base your choice on locations either. The digital world has shrunk communication and relationships are easily established no matter how far-flung.

Ellie Bissett is a client manager at Founded, a creative agency that views technology as a ‘suite of creative tools’. The company policy is to strictly apply only the tools relevant and necessary to promote a brand.

Ellie says "The interaction of creativity and technology is shaping new business and disrupting current one. “Createch” is a term that’s emerged from the collisions of creative excellence, technology, market opportunity and innovations – it’s about humanising digital and delivering superior results. Every brief and every new campaign has to be approached differently to get the most out of both creativity and technology, and to make the two work together."


What does a creative agency do?
Different creative agencies will offer different services. They might be fully integrated – offering all services – or maybe design-focused, so mainly website/email design and branding. Each agency will have their specialities, so you need to investigate this before choosing. Some will specialise in above the line (ALT) and some below the line (BLT), some will specialise in data and some in planning. It really depends what it is you are looking for.

Do I need a big budget?
Not necessarily. Raising awareness might mean many different things – obviously, if you wanted to send an email campaign, this will cost you less than a TV ad. ALT campaigns, such as TV, radio and out of home are more expensive than digital marketing and social because they have a lot more associated production costs. Creating a completely new brand can also be pricey, but tweaks and updates don’t need to be.

If you are a new client with a tight budget, a creative agency should discuss the objectives and figure out what the tangible objective is, i.e. if it is to increase website visits by 40%, the team should consider what it can do within your budget to help you achieve that.

How much input will I have?
Clients can definitely have input, as they know their own brand better than anyone. However, an agency has the benefit of distance – it is not completely buried in the brand – and can take a step back to see the problem and offer the solution. The client is surrounded by the brand 24/7 so doesn’t have this luxury! 

How will a creative agency get to know my target audience?
Focus groups are a key point of interest for some agencies that will partner with research companies to hold larger focus group sessions. Alternatively, an agency might find people and hold phone calls/face-to-face sessions to get to know a clients target audience. 

How honest will an agency be when it comes to a client’s objectives?
A creative agency has to be honest. If it fails in achieving the client’s goal (because it was unrealistic) it reflects badly. An agency should hold a kick-off session so you and they can work out the objectives together and make sure both are happy.

Will a creative agency assess my brand’s current material before coming up with new concepts?
Agency planners should conduct competitor research to make sure a concept is unique and stands out from the crowd. The team should also assess any existing creative to make sure the new concept is on brand and can fit with what they already have – or not, depending on the requirement.

Still searching?
If you are still looking for some inspiration, Instagram is fast becoming the go-to place for agencies to showcase their work.

The Drum Recommends help brands identify the right partners and empowers them to make confident choices about who to work with. Check it out now to find your next social media agency partner.