FINDING THE RIGHT CREATIVE AGENCY
Your organization has tasked you with leading the selection process to choose a strategic creative marketing agency. Regardless of your prior experiences with agency selection, the decision is always important and you have big expectations of the agency you’ll choose. After a decade of writing and issuing Requests For Proposal (RFP)s in leadership roles at big and small provincial and national health charities, I’ve had great, ‘meh’, and ugly relationships with agency vendors. Unfortunately, it took me a while to learn these important lessons.
You will have budget envy. You want to spend the big dollars creating your campaign before splashing it on every billboard and bus. Reality check – you don’t work for a multi-billion-dollar company. You will always have a finite budget. Your budget will always be smaller (or much smaller) than it should be to achieve the impact your board expects. You need this campaign to be successful and you’re wondering if you’ve been set up for failure. Accept the reality – the dollars you have are likely the max. But that doesn’t mean you can’t exceed expectations.
Is bigger always better?
Big agencies = Big budgets = Big success??? They have big ‘cool’ offices and big, industry-leading brands as their clients. Why wouldn’t you want to hire the creative agency everyone at your organization may recognize.
From my experience, bigger isn’t always better. Yes, big agencies may have name recognition; they may win marketing awards. But remember – your organization doesn’t sell shoes or measure success by the number of tickets sold. Your organization is creating social change; your organization makes a difference in someone’s life each and every day. Success at selling car insurance IS NOT how your team measures success.
The number of body washes sold does NOT equate success
A better way to gauge which agencies to consider is the number and breadth of their clients that also have a mission to create social change. Are two or three not-for-profit clients enough to make them an expert in creating the social change your organization boldly states as your mission? Do not get ‘creating a movement to change beauty standards’ confused with the social change you are trying to achieve. The creative agency that works with that brand measures success by the number of body washes sold per quarter – not by the self-esteem of your tween neighbor.
Here’s the reality check I wish I’d learned much earlier – the big agencies are recognizable because most of their clients sell stuff. I’ll say it again, selling body spray IS NOT social change. Heavily prioritize selecting a creative agency by the depth and breadth of its clients who are committed to social change and strengthening the social profit sector. They should work with the organizations with missions most similar to yours. Your organization is trying to address some of the greatest issues of our time – so your organization deserves a creative agency that specializes in co-creating transformative societal change with you.
Want more news and tips for the social profit sector? Sign-up for our newsletter.