Ad agencies generally fall into two categories: full-service and specialized. The former offers a complete range of integrated services across many media, markets and tactics. The latter is a good choice if you require a specific and finite service, such as branding, direct marketing, digital or social media marketing, shopper activation or public relations, to name a few.
There are big differences between how large and small companies find and select an ad agency. To be sure your money will be spent wisely and efficiently, prepare diligently for your search by: knowing exactly what you need and want from your agency; asking your colleagues and peers about their agency experiences; having an idea of your advertising budget; and putting together a list of agency interview questions. This list should include questions related to their experience in your field.
Some agencies are retainer based which rely on expected hours spent at a given rate or rates. Others work on a project basis, agreeing on a set fee for a single project. This is often the way small businesses prefer to work. In addition to agency fees, expect to incur out-of-pocket costs. These include media buying and placement, printing, production and fulfillment costs.
The biggest mistake small businesses make in working with an ad agency: micromanaging. Most small business owners wear many hats, and it can be difficult to loosen the reins over advertising. However, it’s important to free the professionals you’ve hired to do their jobs.