Friday, May 18, 2012

One Wrong Way to Choose an Ad Agency

Is there anything more nerve-wracking than hiring an ad agency? There are so many to choose from, and no surefire way to make the right choice.

But there is one surefire wrong way: Letting yourself be sold by a "pitch team."

Maybe you've already seen The Pitch on AMC. If not, we'll sum it up for you. Two agencies bring together their best and brightest employees to win an account. Naturally, the agencies' best employees produce great work. The clients are blown away, pick a winner, and presumably live happily ever after.

No reason you can't do the same, right? But before you buy into an agency's dog and pony show, ask yourself: If I give my business to a talented pitch team, what's next?

Surprise! They'll never touch your account again.

Sorry, your future is now in the hands of the other people - the ones who didn't make the cut for the pitch team. Meanwhile, the pitch team is off to win someone else's business.

Don't panic, there are ways around this. The first one's obvious: If agency reps introduce themselves to you as "the pitch team" or something like it, tell them not to let the door hit their portfolios on the way out.

Second, find out who will really be working on your account. Can you meet them? Can you interact with everyone instead of just executives? These are fair requests. If an agency turns them down, turn down that agency.

Third: Look at small- to medium-size shops (10-15 people). Agencies with fewer than 10 people usually can't afford stars. Meanwhile, the giant agencies often spread their stars too thin. Medium-size agencies, on the other hand, have stars who work on your account daily. And there's no room for pitch teams.

Finally, take your time. Choosing an agency is a big deal, like a marriage.

Will yours be made in heaven, or hell?

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