Five Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Experiential Agency
You loved the creative pitch, you’ve discussed the budget and everyone on the proposed team seems poised, professional and perfectly compatible with your team.
But experiential programs are not short-term projects. This is the agency you’ll be strategizing pre-event elements with on a weekly basis. They’re the ones with whom you spend long hours onsite. And ideally, they’ll be your experiential partner year-over-year — not only to save the time and inefficiencies incurred with constantly onboarding new agencies, but also so you have a partner who applies their learnings to create smarter, more effective events each year.
This partnership isn’t a decision to be rushed. How do you dig to understand if this is truly the right agency for you? What will best shed light on whether they will advance your goals and serve as a true partner? When hiring an experiential agency, start by asking the following.
Nobody’s perfect. And if you weren’t looking to elevate your events and experiential strategy, you wouldn’t be engaging an agency in the first place. Objective third parties are hugely advantageous, as they can contrast you to their prior experiences, illuminating any areas where you are missing your mark.
Their external perspective also allows them to identify problems you didn’t even know you had. At the same time, an agency partner should understand one size does not fit all in experiential. They should be immersed enough in your brand to identify your unique challenges — all while having a baseline strategy ready to address it.
Creativity is critical. Fresh ideas keep events and activations from getting stale and losing attendee and industry interest. But creative concepts are nothing without consistently flawless execution. You hold your brand to a standard of excellence, and a good agency partner will strive to ensure attendees experience that excellence first-hand time and time again. Your brand perception will be just as important to them as it is to your C-suite leadership.
Additionally, this question can shed light on an agency’s ability to adapt. A true partner will understand consistent quality doesn’t always mean doing the same good thing year-over-year — that often consistent excellence means evolving to stay cutting-edge and relevant.
A dreaded process by both parties. While moving forward with the first idea is a dream scenario, it’s often not the reality. It can be difficult to communicate concepts and imaginations to your agency, making it crucial to have a partner who knows what questions to ask to bring your ideas to life.
By asking about their approach to revisions, you can see another dimension of the agency’s creative process, understanding their expectations and projecting how many rounds of edits would begin stalling the planning process. It also can help keep your own expectations in check and help you determine how to craft feedback to get the results you want more quickly.
Every successful artist or entrepreneur has been asked by at least one earnest interviewer, “Where do you get your inspiration?”
A top-notch experiential agency is composed of savvy creatives who most certainly have their favorite source of new ideas and strategies. An agency’s response not only will lend insight into their commitment to creativity and staying on the cusp of trends, but also enrich your understanding of their working style.
You know what you want in an agency (including some of the brilliant characteristics enumerated above). But as every Dancing with the Stars contestant with control issues has had to learn: it takes two to tango.
If you’re not compatible with your agency’s goals and standards, it’s not going to be the thriving partnership you both want. Plus, by getting a picture of their ideal client, you’re able to better understand the agency’s priorities and objectives and ensure they align with your own. Once you determine compatibility, you can start to build beginning of a beautiful relationship.