How to Hire an Ad Agency

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Forget the dog and pony shows. Scrap the RFPs (Request for Proposals). Instead, take your agency candidates to lunch. Seriously. The reality is, no matter how big or small the agency, three or four people are going to be doing the work on your account. Take them to lunch.

Pitching multiple agencies against each other in a conference room only shows who's the best showman. Sending out questionaires and RFPs doesn't do much more than waste everyone's time and kill trees. Great, smart, impactful advertising happens because there's a personal connection between you, your company, your product and your agency team.

So, take the three or four people who will be working on your account to lunch. Find out if you like them. Do they talk more than they listen? What do they know about your business? What questions do they ask? And be sure to leave the agency principal at the office (unless she's going to be working your account on a daily basis). Leave the agency “pitch team” too.

Break bread with your agency team.

Head-scratchers wanted.

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At some point we're all sitting too close to our project to see that we're being confusing. Instruction manuals are perfect examples. I'm sure the technical writer thought he was being crystal clear, I mean he understood the manual perfectly. How much better (and useful) would that manual be if only he had given it to a “head-scratcher” to read over first. By letting the head-scratcher share her confusion, we'd all be better able to “insert tab A into slot B.”

Everyone needs a head-scratcher. Someone outside your culture who can point out what's not totally clear about your idea, your promotion and your project before the real confusion sets in.

Go big or go home in 2012.

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Planning big is the best way, really the only way, to make great things happen consistently. Sure sometimes you get lucky and greatness falls into your lap, but it's exceedingly rare and fleeting. Big planners are the odds on favorites to have great things – great sales, great profits, great successes in 2012.

Plan big, and then write down your big plans. Now you're focused. Share your big plans with teammates, your partners and your accomplices. Now you're locked in.

Then take action. Act on your big plans today, before lunch, put your big plans into action right now. Get yourself ready to experience greatness in 2012.

After all, you've planned for it.