You’re totally stressed out and know you need to off load some projects, but where do you start? Do you use a freelancer, hire a full-time staff member, or bring on an agency? When internal hires aren’t an option and contracting won’t give you the quality you know you need, the strongest option is often partnering with an agency. With so many options out there, there are a few key considerations you should think about before and during your search to find the best marketing and graphic design agency.
Making sure you’re prepared can make all the difference in finding an agency that fits your needs and budget, as well as one that can be with you for the long haul. When you’re trying to figure out how to find a marketing and graphic design agency that fits your business, ask yourself (and any short-listed agencies) the following questions:
Where are your gaps? Where do you need the most help? Is it on the creative and design side? Or do you need campaign ideas and execution? Is lead generation keeping you up at night?
How much help do you need? Do you have one project or do you need consistent help so you always have
someone to call on?
Will the agency play nice with others? If you have an in-house graphics and/or marketing team, or even
other agencies, you need a group that has experience, and is okay working with all of these internal and
external resources. You need to feel comfortable that the agency is always focused on YOUR success, and not
constantly trying to poach work from other groups.
Does the agency offer flexible pricing models? Is the agency only willing to work with you if you’ll commit
to a monthly retainer? Retainers can definitely take the pressure off you and the agency, but you need to
ensure they’re happy to work with what your needs are, even if that means committing to a project-by-
project arrangement and a little extra bookkeeping on their end.
Can the agency grow with you? Perhaps you’re looking for a graphic design agency that can just re-design
sales and marketing collateral for you…but what if your needs expand and you have a website or other digital
project that comes up? Are their services robust enough to grow as your needs grow, without having to find
someone new? Not all agencies can do everything, but when you’re looking at design specifically, it’s great to
find an agency that’s capable of designing for multiple formats and applications. On the flip side of this, if you
give your agency work that’s not their core strength, scope creep is sure to happen, which means you’ll
constantly be digging into your wallet. Be sure they’ve got your back regardless of your need, and have a
vested interest in your business as much as you have in theirs.
What’s the agency’s culture like and does it fit with yours? This might be one of the most important
aspects. Finding the right cultural fit for your agency is just as important as finding the right cultural fit when
you’re hiring employees. Ask questions about the team and their processes, see what kind of vibe you get,
and whether you feel like it meshes with your organization. If it’s possible, you can even schedule a video call
or in-person meeting.
What are their processes and workflows like? It’s important to know how you’re going to get information,
learn about the status of your project(s), and how you’ll escalate and deal with issues. Does the agency
send weekly emails? Do they use a project management system or other tracking tool? How often do they do
status calls/meetings? Do these processes and workflows meet your needs?
Do you prefer in-person or phone meetings? If you prefer frequent, in-person meetings, a local agency
might be the best fit. If you’re okay with phone and/or video calls, you’ll be able to broaden your options
drastically. The important thing is to find an agency that meets your needs, because ultimately, your success is
What’s your budget? Oh, the dreaded “budget” word! Many companies that find the need to outsource
projects don’t have experience with estimating what a project will cost. And, when considering cost, you have
to take into consideration the ease of managing the engagement, quality of the end product, physical
expense of the project, and overall brand value delivered with the project. While larger agencies may meet
the quality and overall brand value needs, it can sometimes be difficult to manage the engagement (resulting
in an almost full-time program manager-type headcount to interact with the agency) and you end up paying
premium prices for less work. Smaller agencies are often easier to interact with, require less “cycles,”
and cost less money. There are positives and negatives to both sides of the coin, but as long as you feel
comfortable that they LOVE what they do, are burning the candle at both ends to make you successful, and
will stand behind the work you asked them to do, it will be a match made in heaven.
Working with a marketing and graphic design agency partner can be one of the best decisions you make, but it does come with up-front considerations and decisions. If you’re interested in speaking with someone at Onramp about our services, we’d love to chat! Feel free to contact us any time.