It’s scary to make the leap with an agency. It’s a big investment and you’re giving someone the responsibility of creating a new concept for your brand. Whether they’re coding, designing a new logo or helping with social media marketing, there are ways to make sure the agency you hire is the best for your needs.

The first thing to look for when interviewing agencies is their style. Look for someone who matches the style you want for your brand. You don’t go to a Mexican restaurant and ask for sushi. If you want a minimalistic style, look for a portfolio that matches. If you want something textured and grunge, seek out agencies that have done similar work. Some agencies can cater to various styles, but you will have better success if you find someone who has your desired style already established in their past work.

When you feel comfortable with your options and get your meeting scheduled, it’s time to test the fit. They will be working alongside you, helping you achieve your goals. You want to make sure that they’re a good fit for your organization, your workflow and your work environment. Be prepared to ask them (and yourself) hard questions.

  • Top questions to ask agencies before hiring them:
    • How much strategy and research will they do? What is involved in that process? We find that the most successful projects go slowly through strategy and research to make sure the approach, style, and solution is the right one.
    • What is their overall process? What stages can you expect to go through if you work with them?
    • How involved will you, the client, be in their process?
    • Do they hit their deadlines? What is the consequence if they miss the deadline?
    • Do they feel like their team can handle your project? If not, do they have other resources to get the project done?
    • What kind of tools will they use to collaborate with you to keep communication smooth? How will they manage the project, feedback, communication, revisions, etc? 
    • What expectations do they have from you if you decide to hire them? Do you have your own deadlines from them or expectations for any kind of miscommunication?

  • Top questions to ask yourself before hiring an agency:
    • What will you need in two, three, five years down the line? How will this project impact that?
    • What is a realistic goal for growth in the next 12 months? What financial impact will this project have on your bottom line?
    • What is the risk of this project failing?
    • What does a perfect partner look like? What quality is important for your agency partner to possess?
    • Did you feel like that agency understood you? Did they ask good questions and seem to understand what you were trying to say?
    • What does success for the project look like?
    • Are you dedicated to helping the agency hit their deadlines? Do you have available time to review, send feedback, join meetings, and be part of the process? An agency can only make progress when the work is approved, and even the smallest delays can push a project out.
    • How many vendors do you need to talk to in order to make a decision?

The last thing you can do is to find reviews. Check, Google, or ask if you can contact old clients as a reference. We all make mistakes and have flaws, but it’s best to gather as much information as you can about who you’re going to be partnering with, before paying the deposit.

The best engagement you can have with an agency is more of a partnership, instead of just a transaction. Both you and the agency need to work together to successfully fulfill your goals.