Are your Firm brochures a little stale? Does the Web site still look and read exactly as it did this time last year? Has the leadership team grown, service offering list changed, or client base expanded into a new niche? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, it is time to engage the help of an advertising agency to update your marketing and advertising campaigns.
How do you find the agency that is right for your firm? If you have more than three partners, establish a marketing committee to spearhead the agency search process. Entrust the committee to make decisions on behalf of the Firm, including selecting the agency, establishing sales goals, managing the budget, approving the agency's work, and overseeing Firm implementation of the campaigns developed.
From there, the committee should conduct research on potential agencies. Start with obtaining referrals from other professionals. Based on your needs, evaluate which agency is the most creative, conservative, quirky or cost-effective. Determine which agencies have experience marketing professional services and who understand the industries you serve. The committee can then narrow the selection process to three to five firms for formal interviews.
While your committee may have additional questions specific to the Firm, start with the following five sets of questions for agency interviews:
- What is your process? How will you approach our project? These questions allow the committee to ensure the agency is a good fit to meet marketing and advertising goals within the firm's expected timeline.
- With whom will we work day-to-day? Are you my account executive, or will someone from your staff be assigned to oversee my work? If someone will be assigned, ask to meet them before proceeding.
- How do you charge for your work? Is there a fixed fee, hourly rate, or a combination of the two? Expect that agencies bill long-term projects based on a monthly retainer. For smaller projects, the agency may prefer to provide estimates per project based on hours necessary to complete the job.
- To what extent do you manage outside vendors? A full-service agency will work on your behalf with all outside vendors associated with approved projects. Further, for a small service fee, most advertising agencies will streamline billing from outside vendors to facilitate the process on your behalf.
- How do you track and measure ROI? Ensure that your agency is equipped to reach your goals and to measure the outcomes.
Once you hire your advertising agency, be prepared to work with them as a team. The assistance of an ad agency can guide you toward greater growth and increase your firm's overall value in the marketplace.
"Business Development: Resources to Use" is an eight part series written exclusively for AccountingWEB. The series' authors are Jill Mercer, president of Wilson-Mercer Marketing and Vanessa Stiles, president of Victory Sun, Inc. Visit their websites at www.wilsonmercer.com and www.wearevictorysun.com.
Other articles in this series: