Why I would rather Hire an Ad Agency

Why I would rather Hire an Ad Agency

I enjoy having guest writers to share their experience and view points here. Today, I have Calvin Warr disclosing why he prefers to hire an advertising agency compare to getting a freelancer.

Calvin has been in marketing for many years. From running his own studio to working in huge marketing teams and of course, have worked with agencies, freelancers and in-house graphics teams. He shares his thoughts and experience over at his blog where he declares “Marketing Should Be Fun”. In his own words, the funny guy “spends the rest of his time pretending to be on a diet.”

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Many small companies think that the most cost effective approach is to work with Freelancers. As a marketing professional, my take on this would be that it is the cheapest approach. When we talk about “cost effectiveness”, it is ironic that cost is only one part of the whole. And you know, that “effectiveness” part is sort of like very important.Don’t get me wrong. I love Freelancers. They are usually more creative, more daring and come up with much better ideas. Unfortunately, the one thing they do not have, is consistency. If you had a fantastic ad or poster created, then 3 months later, you want a killer direct mailer, who would you call? Why, that fantastic Freelancer, of course.

But he or she might have gotten married and moved to the Bermuda Triangle. Or found a job, at the neighbourhood deli getting great tips. You never know.

Working with agencies could be a real pain. Pompous Account Directors, Crazy Creative Directors, Sensitive Susans here and there – it could be a nightmare. Many people also believe that agencies are sterile environments where ideas bow to commercial needs. To some extend, this could be true. That probably explains why the most creative, whacky ideas usually come from small agencies or independents.

But by and large, most agencies have professionals who know what they are doing. Actually, the most important aspect of an agency that make them superior to Freelancers is simply the fact that they do have systems in place.

With an agency, you know they have a system for doing things. They have a process from the point where the account servicing person gets the brief, to the creative flow and finally back to the client. I tell you, McDonald’s might not be the best burger on the block, but it could be the only one I know for sure has meat (sort of) in the burger.

For many marketing professionals, working with an agency has one other advantage – accountability. If you have ever heard the saying “No one ever got fired for buying IBM”, you will understand this (OK, let’s just accept the saying). An agency that messes up has a process for cleaning up. This could entail an elaborate cocktail dinner for your boss, flowers, or even the big boss of the agency flying down from his Swiss get-a-way to personally apologise to your boss. Preserve your job. But on a more serious note, a well established agency is more likely to be able to fix errors than a poor Freelancer. They (the agencies) can afford to.

If you ever find a good, committed Freelancer, hang on to him or her for dear life. They are rare jewels. For the rest of us mortals, choose a good agency. But more importantly, establish clear objectives and performance expectations. You might not win any awards, but you won’t get fired.

[tags]hiring ad agency[/tags]

7 Replies to “Why I would rather Hire an Ad Agency”

  1. Hi Calvin!
    A great insight indeed! I wonder if that is the case why many great art/copy pros quit big agencies and set up their own shops? We witness many a pros going solo or have their own no to so big set-ups.
    As you said, the agencies sure come to the rescue in an unfortunate situation. But the long working hours take a toll, besides those nagging ego hassles. Otherwise, it’s always fun to be with a great team.
    Great post and it’s a pleasure reading it. Thanks a lot!

  2. You make some good points Calvin.

    I do think an experienced freelancer will also have a system in place.

    One of the biggest benefits that I see an agency offering is in the amount of resources that they have. Usually, there is more than one individual so you can benefit from interplay of various ideas.

  3. Thanks Solomon, Laura. Actually, I do believe that everyone will have some kind of system in place, otherwise, they could not function as a business (hint: beware the clueless freelancer, or agency even!). Maybe the correct point of view would be to work with someone who has a good track record. Whether freelancer or agency, happy clients, strong testimonials and a good history of excellence are definitely clear indications of a good partner to work with. Thanks for the jolt, Laura!

  4. Some good points comparing the freelancer with the agency shop, but I will say this: as a freelancer, I am around for the long haul. Unlike some who dabble in this area of work, I have waded in — in fact, I’m in over my head!

  5. Well, Matt, it is committed professionals like you that every company hopes to find, but many fail to. It is hard to tell just by looking at a portfolio. And it is only over time, as you work with each other that you can tell who is in it for the long haul. All I am saying is, with an agency, usually, they are in it for the long haul due to the investments made and the time taken to build up the infrastructure. And processes, these are important. :)

  6. Im trying to start an ad agency.And would like to get more info,on how to get started.

  7. Hi Michael
    This seems to be an obvious answer, still, the truth is “Get the client first”. It’s easier to start a business when you have a client base. All the best.

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