Know what you need. Yes, an advertising agency can help you target the best media for your message, but you need to first know what your goals are. Perhaps you want to increase your sales by 10% in the next quarter. An advertising agency can help you plan a way to help that happen. If your business is unknown in your community, hiring an advertising agency can get you on everyone's radar. If you are launching new products, an agency can build buzz and excitement about it beforehand.
Have an open mind. Don't immediately write off certain agencies due to their size or your budget. As a small business, you may think you can't afford the services of a big advertising agency, but you might be surprised. State your needs clearly and be honest about your budget. You could end up hiring one of your area's biggest ad agencies. On the flip side, if you have a large business, you may think that by simply using the marketing department personnel you already have, you can create a successful advertising campaign. However, hiring even a small, independent advertising agency can really improve on any success you've had from doing advertising in-house. When advertising is the sole focus of a company, they can zero in on your needs and devote their time and energy to just that.
Don't limit your search geographically. The Internet has made geographical distance little more than an inconvenience. The perfect ad agency for you might be located in a different media market or even in a different country. Hiring outside your area may necessitate some travel, but perhaps not. If the medium you are targeting is Internet or even print, you may do better having an advertising campaign you can believe in even if that campaign is created remotely. Another advantage to consider with hiring outside your geographical region is that you're more likely to get an ad campaign that is unique to your local customers and media, and that helps you stand out of the crowd.
Industry experience isn't everything. When it comes to an advertising agency's experience in your particular industry, it matters some, but it isn't everything. There is no need to disregard the services of an agency that does not have experience in your particular niche. Perhaps they have experience in a similar industry, experience that could carry over to yours. Or perhaps one of their designers or writers used to work in your industry. While you may ultimately decide on an agency that is recognized as top-of-the-line quality in advertising your industry, you just never know. Give others a chance, and you might be surprised.
What kind of ads appeal to you? One very simple thing to do when searching for an advertising agency is simply to notice which ads appeal to you in every medium, and then ask the agency responsible for those ads. They'll be pleased that their ads were noticed, and you might find the perfect ad agency for your business that way. When you do this, keep notes, clippings, or screen shots, and after you have a good collection, take a look at them and see if there is any common thread among the ads you like. Perhaps they all have a certain typeface. Maybe they're animated rather than on video. Or they all feature outdoor settings. If there is a strong pattern, then you should probably pay attention to it. This will help you define your needs better, and will help you when you contact an advertising agency to pinpoint exactly what it is you like. There may be a specific designer or copywriter that can do the type of work you want done.
If you have never hired an advertising agency before, you might be a little intimidated in doing so for the first time. But if you know your needs, your budget, and your tastes, it could be some of the best money your business ever spent. Advertising agencies can get you the media exposure that you need to help your business succeed. They understand that not everybody is Coca-Cola, and that small businesses are just as deserving of effective, attractive advertising materials as the big guys are. If your business is reasonably flush with cash, and you've never tried using an advertising agency before, then there may not be a better time than now to try it.