Saturday, March 05, 2005

Smart Pickings

Whether you're choosing a design firm, an ad agency, or a content provider, some tips can help you weed out the bad seeds. Here are some of our tried-and-true techniques:

1. Ask around. The old corporate kiss-and-tell. People are more than happy to talk about their experiences with agencies. (WARNING: This may produce an emotional outburst. Be prepared to protect yourself.) Make a short list of prospects.

2. Avoid the dog-and-pony show. (Cause the clean-up’s tough.) Call them in. Spend an hour or so talking to them about how they do business. See how they grasp the intricacies of your business. Feel the vibes.

3. Try a sneak attack. Stop by their office. Consider a surprise visit, but if you think that’s not fair, give them no more than an hour’s notice. Catch them with their pants down, so to speak. You might also want to peek in their refrigerator while you’re there.

4. Make them do something. Pick two or three agencies and pay each one to undertake a project. See how they respond. Reward the agency that does best with a commitment for more (or all) of your business. NOTE: Let No. 2 know they are No. 2, and keep in touch with them (you never know).

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