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What qualities should startups look for in their first creative agency?

Business is going well and you’ve put aside a budget for advertising,OR you’ve just made a successful pitch and your startup’s getting funding.

Congratulations! This can be both an exciting and daunting time for you and your business. You’ve made the next step, you’re about to take the plunge, from a big fish in small pond to small fish in big pond. You realise that you have a responsibility to hit targets and get engagement. You need to use your money wisely and find a creative agency that has your best interests at heart.

This can be tough to find. So where do you even start to look, what type of agency do you need? What should you spend your money on, is it SEO, press advertising or social media?

First off you need to decide where you’re target audience is. Once you know the place to reach them you can decide the agency best suited for the job. Now there are some other factors to consider like being able to monitor conversion. You can only really monitor conversion rates online. It’s very hard to know how much value for money you’re getting with press advertising. It’s often a good medium for exposure, much like TV and radio. However, if you’re just starting out I’d recommend using channels that are easy to monitor so you can adjust the effectiveness of your content.

RAR (Recommended Ad Agencies) This is a site with a record of all the best agencies along with ratings and comments from clients. It’s a great place to start. You have to be recommended by at least 3 clients to feature on the site so you know they are REAL companies.

So, for example lets say you’re a B2C brand and the audience you want to reach are on Facebook. There are plenty of small agencies and even freelance specialists who can help you setup and automate your Facebook advertising. This should include modifying and split testing the ads to make sure they’re optimised to achieve maximum conversions. You might not know what you’re consumers like until you experiment.

You need to make sure your ads have the right copy, headline and visual, all working together harmoniously. However, if you want your ads to be that next viral ‘thing’ shared by millions and accrue organic traction then you need to have an exceptional insight in place along with a clever strategy. There’s a rough formulae to creating ‘viral’ content, however it’s still very hit and miss. A good agency just makes your chances of hitting a lot higher.

This is where it pays to have a Creative agency who can create campaigns that will get shared. Make sure the agency has a proven track record of successful Facebook campaigns and results. Going back to what I said early on, you need to think what your objectives are. Do you want leads, exposure or traffic, for example? These objectives will change the way you create your content. A good agency should know this.

How much should I pay an agency to manage my Facebook advertising?

Facebook Ad Pricing. – This is great article on how different agencies like to operate from a costing perspective. So take a look at which fits your business model the best.

In my experience an SMEs should be paying anywhere between £1800 to £6000 per month for an agency to manage their Facebook ads. This also depends on how much creative you’re producing vs allowed budget. It might be that you want to target 5 different groups of people with different ads. If so you’ll need to spend more on the creative and designing of the ads. If you can produce the creative in-house then you’ll save on costs but often it’s easier to leave it to the professionals.

Of course as a client you’ll be expected to pay for the media space. The difference in price should reflect the remarkability. Now that’s a term I’ve coined, I’m hoping it’ll catch on – the chances of the ads being remarkable. You want people to be talking about it in the pub over a pint. With a cheaper agency you’ll get the basics setup and you’ll start getting some engagement. But if you really want to make an impact with an original campaign then I think it’s worth paying a little more for the creative talent. Some people say ‘well I just run a building company, it doesn’t need to be creative’, I disagree. Even the most corporate of businesses will benefit from exceptional creativity. For that exact reason that everyone in the industry is doing boring ads. So if you’re the only one doing something interesting and existing then it’ll stand out. So I say no matter the industry, creativity is key. – Be thoughtful.

You also need to make sure that the agency isn’t charging you for extras you don’t need. Do you need an agency to manage and automate all your Facebook advertising or do you want to produce campaigns every other month? Do you need ads to be rolled out onto Twitter and Instagram, and do you want topical Facebook posts thrown in? This is unfortunately up to you, as I said at the beginning this all depends on where your target audience are. If you’ve already got a lot of Facebook followers then great, roll out some posts. If not then you need to possibly get some more followers.

A Facebook campaign should have the same level of thought and care as a press ad. It’s a process that requires skill an ability. Since we’re using Facebook as an example we know it’s saturated with content rich ads. Users are fed ‘rewarding’ content 24/7. So you have to rise above the sea of stuff and grab your audience’s attention. This can cost you money.

Does your business’s culture and ambition match with your creative agency?

Finally, this is an important one. I touched on this in a previous post. You want to work with like minded individuals and an agency that shares your values and culture. It’s very important to have a relationship with your creative agency. You want them to know that the better the work they do the more business you get and so the more work they can get. It should be a mutually beneficial partnership.

VCCP is the agency that had around 15 members before they acquired Compare the Market as a client. Dunno if you’re familiar with those meerkats?… You know, the ones we see invading our living rooms and popping up on our screen on a daily basis? Well yes unless you have been in a cave or with the Swiss family Robinsons then you’ll know the line ‘ Compare the Meerkat’.

After the success of this campaign VCCP received stardom. They doubled in size within a matter of months. This one successful campaign gave them huge credibility and exposure. And to this day they still have a great relationship with that client. Compare the Market took on it’s competitors and made a huge profit, thus so did the agency. An example of a mutually beneficial relationship.

So have a pint with the guys, find out what makes them tick and whether you get a good gut feel. At Sidekick Studios we can assist you with developing your value proposition so that you can make an impact, whatever the creative. We’re always available for a pint. It doesn’t matter what platform you advertise on it’s imperative to find that insight or product truth that’ll stick in peoples memories. We’re quite good at truth hunting as we’re a curious bunch, so please feel free to get in touch.

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