5 Ways Hiring a Creative Agency is Like Online Dating

Let’s say you’re looking for a partner. You hope to find the best match. You want to hit it off and interact well together. You want this partner to have a history of productive relationships in the past. You hope the new relationship can last into the future.

Are you looking for romance on eHarmony? For a date on Match.com?

Nope, you’re trying to find a new creative agency. But the process is surprisingly similar. And the experience (and pitfalls) of online dating can actually teach you a better way to hire a creative agency.

These are the 5 ways that hiring a creative agency is like online dating …

1. Profiles look better “on paper.”

Anyone looking to meet a mate online—or attract prospective clients—puts their best foot forward. So while you may learn some of their strengths, it’s only part of the picture. Don’t evaluate based on partial information; get the full picture.

2. Everybody sounds the same.

In that attempt to sound good on paper, many often resort to cliché or standard language (moonlit walks on the beach, anyone?). When reduced to a description of their development process or their services, many agencies will sound interchangeable, too—especially if we follow common best practices.

3. You only see the prettiest picture.

Speaking of cliché, it’s a running joke that photos on dating profiles are cropped and manipulated practically beyond recognition in order to make them as attractive as possible. So relying on one photo alone isn’t enough. The same is true of agency portfolios. Of course you want to see their best work. But don’t forget the work that isn’t just the prettiest; ask to see designs that were the most effective at meeting the project’s goals.

4. It’s their opinion, not yours.

All of the subjective information in a dating profile is from the perspective of the person writing the profile. A guy might describe himself as an athlete because he hits the gym two or three times a month. A woman who “loves to travel” hasn’t left town in 3 years. If you want to know how an agency stacks up against the criteria that are important to you, the evaluation should be yours, not theirs.

5. There are so many options to sort through.

Run a search on Match.com or eHarmony and you may get hundreds of results. The same thing is true for an agency review process. Unless you’re hiring an agency with a very specialized skill set or industry expertise, chances are you’ll have several to choose from. Reducing the options can be daunting. Where are you supposed to start?

How to Find the Right Match

So how do you avoid the pitfalls of online dating—and the agency review process?

In the end, it comes down to chemistry. Your team and your agency are going to be working together closely for weeks and months until your project is done; there has to be a good fit.

So narrow down your options on paper, and then meet your leading candidates. Electronic communication and phone calls will only get you so far.

Get face to face. Talk to them. Go to their offices and see where they work. Get a tour and meet your prospective partner’s whole team.

Once you’ve had that first date, then send out your RFP to the agencies who fit best. Because you’ve already had conversations together, they’ll be able to craft a proposal that better fits your needs. And you’ll be able to pick a winning firm that has the best solution and the best team.

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