Three Tips For Hiring An Agency When You Are A Small Business


If you are a small business you are probably the resident expert in just about everything.  Unless you are a renaissance person, you are winging it when it comes some aspects of your business. It could be advertising, graphic design, social media, e-commerce or public relations. At some point you need to up your game if you want to grow your business. You need to hire outside expertise in the form of a creative agency.


There is no such thing as an agency.

So you go and hire yourself an agency. But there is something you will discover when you go the agency route.  There’s no such thing as an agency.  There are only the creative, administrative  and client management people who happen to be working for the agency when you hire them.  I’ll take it a step further.  There are only the individual people who work on your account.

No other vendor you use is more dependent than a creative agency on the individuals who work there.

When you are introduced to the folks at the agency, the  likelihood is that a couple of top people-possibly an owner-will pitch you. You may be impressed with their creativity, track record and client list. Don’t get too attached to these people.  When it’s time to start work on your project, those seasoned folks will fade into the background, assuring you that they will stay involved and you’ll meet the real team. If you’re lucky, the people who work with you will be up and comers.  If you’re in it with this agency for the long run don’t get too attached to them either. People move quickly in the agency world. Either up or out.

What can you do?

As an entrepreneur, you may be tempted to do everything yourself but that’s unrealistic and it’s a recipe for stagnation.  At some point, you need to look outside your own team, no matter how talented.  So, how can you deal with the agency dilemma?

1.  You could look for an agency that has a team with longevity.  How long have they been in business and what percentage of that time has each person been there?

2.  If that route doesn’t work, look for an agency started by someone who was a key player at a large agency-someone who put up a shingle, brought in some freelance and virtual support and is operating without the huge overhead of a big agency. You will be hiring the best talent, which is what an agency has to offer-without the giant retainer and uncertainty about who will work on your account.

3.  When you are considering hiring the agency, ask in detail about what they did for the clients that they have represented.  Then get references from people who are listed as their clients-not necessarily the ones they give you.

Working with a creative agency can be a rewarding experience that takes you to the next level. It starts with finding the right people, not the right brand name agency.  Be very clear about who the individuals are who will be working with you.  If for any reason those people stop working with you,  ask pointed questions about the transition plan and the new people.  When it comes to creative work, everything hinges on individuals.

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