Hiring an Agency
Hiring a new agency is an investment of time and resources. Fuse has developed the information below to help organizations plan for an efficient hiring process.
Why Hire an Agency?
Experienced agencies offer a fresh perspective and can give clients insight into specific customers, products and business. Agencies can remain focused on strategy, creative, etc., while not getting bogged down with business matters. They also provide expertise and support to in-house teams that are working at or above their capacity.
Specialty Agencies Add Value
In some cases, even when a company has one or more agencies in its network, it may bring in a specialty firm that can help target a specific demographic, such as the Millennial market. A specialty agency can successfully execute a certain type of program efficiently and develop relevant creative assets. The right agency working within its area of expertise should be able to execute fresh, exciting work with creativity and efficiency.
Agency Hiring Process
Once the decision to hire an agency is made, the following are valuable steps in the agency hiring process:
Request For Proposal (RFP)
A good first step is for the company to identify and document its needs. Doing this gives a prospective agency insight into the company’s goals. It also can help stakeholders within the company’s organization align on key elements of the program and prevent unmet expectations later. The approach to documenting your needs can vary from listing a few key points written in an email to a detailed Request for Proposal. A good RFP will outline the following:
- Business and brand background and positioning
- Summary of desired work and objectives (include any special expectations and considerations)
- Details on targeted consumers (and customers and/or distribution and retail systems if appropriate)
- Timelines for responding to the brief and for the program
Some clients prefer not to provide budget information, however a budget is necessary in guiding the agency to develop feasible solutions to the company’s marketing challenges. Agencies will spend a great deal of time and energy responding to an RFP, therefore potential clients should be clear with the agency about the following:
- If an agency may not be hired as a result of the process
- If funding has not been approved for the agency’s proposed projects
Researching Potential Agencies
There are a few ways to research potential agencies. You might network within your organization or research trade publications. When you identify a potential candidate, you should have an initial phone interview with the agency to discuss your project and the agency’s capabilities. As you conduct this interview, consider the following:
- Does the agency really do the things you’re looking for or are they just saying, “we can do everything”?
- Can the agency provide examples of past work (done in the last three years) that is relevant to your needs?
- Does the agency have other clients that you think can serve as a reference point for your own needs/goals?
- Is there chemistry and personality fit?
- Does the agency have a formal system to manage work and update clients on progress?
- How does the agency staff client accounts?
- How does the agency bill for services?
Provide the RFP
When selecting agencies to respond to the Request for Proposal, be available to discuss it with each agency. Remember, the more details you communicate about your project, the more likely the proposals will fit your needs. Give each agency a reasonable RFP due date of at least two weeks.
Evaluate the Agency Proposals
Plan to review agency proposals in-person or via phone conference, allowing the agency to present the proposal and not just email it to you to read. Criteria for evaluating proposals should be identified in advance and consistently applied to each agency. This typically includes agency expertise, topline concepts, ability to execute, how the program will be measured, budget analysis and other factors specific to the project.
Hiring the agency typically involves signing a service agreement, agreeing on a payment schedule and having a kick-off meeting.