Choosing an advertising agency is a lot like selecting a mate. There are many things to consider such as values, compatibility even finances. Choosing a Multicultural Advertising Agency comes with its own set of rules, even if you have a general market agency. Here are five things to consider when choosing a multicultural advertising agency.
Do I actually need a Multicultural Advertising Agency?
Knowing who your target market is half the battle. For many large companies, the multicultural consumer may be one of many identified targets. For others, it may be your best customer. If you already have a detailed consumer profile or buyer persona, you know what and why they buy based on demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. A multicultural advertising agency might be for you.
If you don't know your multicultural target consumer in this much detail, spend some time researching what's important to them and develop a marketing strategy. You must understand your business, your customer, their problems, and what what makes them all occasionally collide in the event we call a sale. If this is you, you are probably not yet ready for a multicultural advertising agency. Advertising agencies, regardless of specialty, are NOT equipped to develop marketing strategy, their job instead is to implement it. You should be prepared with complete market research, competitive and cost analysis before even approaching any agency. Let me know if you need help.
What Do I Know About Them?
Unfortunately, I have had more unsuccessful partnerships than successful ones in my years in business. If I look back on those messy divorces, they were almost all a product of competing interests. In any solid partnership, you should share common values. Is your mission similar? Are our corporate cultural beliefs aligned? Do they celebrate collaboration and innovation or is it a top down approach? This is even more important when selecting a multicultural advertising partner. By nature of the work, there needs to be common thread.
Spend some time at their facility, ask for a tour and schedule to meet with their senior management and principals, if possible. Ask them not just about their successes but also their missteps and what they've learned from them. You aren't infallible but we are defined by how we overcome failure. You'll gain a great deal about their character. Also, get a feel for the culture, energy, the heartbeat of the agency. If it feels like a place you would like to work, you're probably on to something. If you can, speak to members of the creative team and get a sense of it they're being empowered or stifled. Creatives that are free to express themselves and their art produce more unique and innovating product.
Lastly, don't be fooled by an agency's pitch. Save that for Mad Men. A pitch will only show off the agency's skillset and larger agencies can wow and overwhelm you with that. If they don't understand you and what you stand for, they won't be able to translate that into connections with your consumers.
How Diverse Are They?
Any good multicultural agency should subscribe to a culture of diversity. It may seem obvious but its often overlooked. Look for an agency that is not only comprised of the audience you would like to target but of a good mix of races, ethnicities and age groups permeated all throughout the ranks.
It is important that the agency empowers its woman to lead and embraces employees from all walks of life and sexual orientations. While it might seem like a great idea to work with an all Caribbean agency if that's the audience you are targeting, unfortunately their capabilities may be limited and the product often homogenius. The best multicultural agencies are those with teams that celebrate diversity as they likely bring a wealth of different experiences and voices to the table, promoting an extremely creative product.
Am I Open Minded?
Remember, you are looking for a multicultural advertising agency. You SHOULD be shocked by what you discover. Diversity breeds creative tension and we often gain some most incredible innovation from it. Don't be scared off by that, instead embrace it. Be open to agencies seeking your business of all different sizes, bodies of work, and geography. multicultural advertising is still evolving. Its important to pay more consideration to its future, rather than its past body of work. How do they see the future and how do they feel your industry is trending?
Set a list of non-negotiables, but keep it short. Outside of creative experience, there shouldn't be many on your list. Remember, technology is the great equalizer. An agency of 10 can compete with on of 300 if they embrace technology. They'll also spend more time on your account.
Is Price My Deciding Factor?
I would be silly to say you shouldn't consider rate when selecting an agency, you can only buy what you can afford. Instead I would view it as a function of the return on your investment. How much are you willing to give up to gain? Also avoid being overly aggressive in negotiations. Advertising sells cars, it isn't one. Cutting the agency's budget will only mean you're reducing your level of service, team and man-hours in return and the results can be counterproductive and set yourself up for failure. Any good agency will hold a firm line, respect it. Remember this is a partnership, be fair and consider other internal cost-savings.
Successful multicultural advertising agency partnerships are as much the marketers responsibility as it is the agency's. Careful consideration when selecting your new partner will free your time and give you the piece of mind to know someone is looking out for the brand's best interest. By doing your due-diligence on the front end will prevent you from having to repeat these steps again in near future.