When pressed, many companies looking for design support would agree that they would prefer to make use of a local design agency, as opposed to one based a great distance away. The reasons for this preference may be numerous.
Let’s say that you’re based in Birmingham. It’s likely that you’ll want to make use of a Birmingham design agency rather than a firm based outside of the Midlands. You’ll probably want to support the local economy by passing work to a local business, and you may have a little more faith in a local agency when it comes to delivering the goods against a tight timeframe.
How to find a local design agency?
So, how do you go about looking for a local design agency? Well, if you don’t already know of an agency in your area, you might venture online to conduct a web search or have a bit of a browse through a business directory. But before you just sign up to the service the first agency you find is offering, you need to get a bit of an understand about what their skills and capabilities are.
Don't just take their word for it
Ask around, get references and look for other work that the agency has done for other local companies. It's an old adage in business that ‘reputation is everything’; so ask other business people whom they would recommend. When you start talking to the local agencies, ask them if they have client recommendations. Of course, it’s even better if you can talk directly to existing clients and not just read a pre-prepared statement.
Using your local network to find a local agency
When looking for an agency, ask around, use businesses that you know and asked them who they would recommend. Maybe ask a trusted supplier. It can be a valuable source of information and a good starting point for sorting out the wheat from the chaff at an early stage (a word of warning - make sure you understand the relationship and they are not just recommending friends or business partners).
Budgets and charging structures
Understanding how agencies budget and quote for their work is an important part of the process, and the sooner you can get your head around that, the better! Some companies charge an hourly rate, whilst others are happy to look at it on a job-by-job basis. It is also worthwhile asking about menu pricing if you have a lot of work to do.
Local agency reliability
As mentioned previously, the reliability of a local design agency is an important consideration. When choosing a supplier, ascertain how reliable each company is by asking those in your network with previous experience of them. Ask for recommendations and you will get a good feel for how reliable each company will be.
Is the agency professional?
From your initial meeting with an agency, you should be able to fathom out how professional and experienced the agency is. The credentials presentation they give and the cost structure they have in place are key indicators as to how good your potential agency is.
How creative is your design agency?
When selecting a design agency, creativity is often one of the most important factors to consider. However, you must avoid thinking in terms of whether you like the creativity and instead focus on whether it's appropriate against the brief the agency was given.
How do you go about measuring your design agency’s success?
Whenever you use an agency, you must have a measure for success. It could be time or budget or perhaps the rate in which new clients are acquired as a result of their work. Whatever your measure of success, it is important to have something in place so that you can evaluate how the relationship is developing.
Local agency accountability
There is no point in having a measure of success without some sort of accountability. Ask your local agency what happens if things go wrong – and take note of their response. If they fail to deliver on a key aspect of the brief, then you'll find out how accountable an agency wants to be. You might want to ask them how much risk they are prepared to share with your venture.
I hope these key points help and guide you through the difficult process of selecting a local design or marketing agency, and if our Birmingham-based readers are considering a new agency, remember to give Zulu a call!