I had a friend ask me this question because they really weren’t sure what they needed or even wanted to know as their company kicked off an agency search. For the record, Omni Ideas is not an ad agency; we used to be an agency, but have since evolved into focusing on brand building for our clients, so the question was asked in hopes of an objective response.
The truth is, there are a lot of great questions to ask. But in all the years we were a full-service ad agency, I cannot recall more than two instances when a potential client asked the key question that would impact them the most in our time working together: “What is it like to be a client of your agency?”
That’s a BHD (big hairy deal) question. It covers the staffing – who handles what, and who you will most often be hearing from. How will you handle conflicts or inevitable last-minute changes in our projects? It also covers what your expectations should be, and hopefully, theirs as well. It will reveal their values and ethics, and even how the top brass view their staff (the staff who are typically the ones doing most of your work).
Be sure to include that question in any new ad agency search, along with the obvious review of their capabilities, their past client work and a handful of references you can call.
If you aren’t feeling the same honeymoon glow you had when you first called them, move on. But if their response resonates with your values and expectations, prep that press release announcement of your new partnership!