The agency landscape can be vast and confusing. But the good news is that there’s definitely a partner or set of agencies that will be the right fit for your business.  The problem: how to find them and choose the right one.

As a business owner or even a marketing leader, one of the biggest challenges is finding the right marketing and creative resources to support your business.  When I’ve been in marketing roles, my first instinct is to go to someone I know.  The personal connection feels the safest. The trouble comes when the people I know aren’t working at agencies that fit the need I have.  Then what?

Over the years, I have developed my own methodology for narrowing down the agencies that are a good fit for my business needs.

  1. Find a “right-sized” agency for your business.  If you are a medium or small business, you need to find an agency that is catering to businesses your size.  If you have a medium or smaller business and go to a big agency like Weiden + Kennedy, the economics just won’t work.  They have a big agency overhead and thereby need clients with big budgets. You’ll need to find and choose an agency that is comfortable working in your budget range.  Typically, look for agencies that are in a similar realm to yours in terms of size and growth.
  2. Identify what you need help with.  When I work with a new agency, I love to start out with a well-defined project.  This approach gives me and my agency partner time to work together and see if we are a good match.  It provides a framework for me getting to know the people, process, and product of the agency and it gives the agency a chance to get to know me, my business/brand and needs.
  1. Identify the skill-set you need based on the project you believe you have.  Do you need a new website or a campaign to get new customers or do you need brand work done?  This will help you narrow to focus on the right options.
  2. Talk to at least 3 agencies before deciding. As with any big decision, it’s enlightening to talk to more than one agency to get a better feel for the options.
  3. Consider geography. An agency who is in town will provide opportunities for in-person meetings.  But if you’re in a high-cost region (like the Bay area), you may consider agencies that are adjacent in geography but have lower costs. If you’re on the West Coast and considering an east coast agency, remember there is a 3 hour time difference which will make scheduling meetings more difficult; it also increases travel costs for in-person meetings.  Be practical with the realities of your agency partner’s work times and your own to better focus on the right agency for your business. By the same token, if your business is in a small market, you may need to push to a nearby larger market to find the right talent for your need.
  4. Dig Deeper. While it’s tempting to go with the lowest cost option, it’s important to think about the end product and the process that you will go through with the agency to create it.  Ask questions about their client service philosophy and creative, strategy and production processes to find the right fit for your need.


It’s an important decision but go with your gut.  Meet the people, ask questions, ask for examples of work and for referrals. You will find your perfect match.


About the Author:

Kristy has spent many years in marketing roles for companies as well as time in account and strategy roles at agencies.  She’s worked for big and small companies. She’s currently the Director of Strategy + Planning at Revere; a brand experience agency located in Vancouver, WA. Outside of work, she’s raising 5 kids (including 10-year-old quadruplets) and enjoys wake surfing, snowboarding, volleyball and getting outside as much as possible.