It seems like internal creative groups are enjoying a resurgence these days, with more companies making the decision to hire designers and writers to handle their marcomms workload.
But that’s not to say those internal teams don’t need external help. Whether it’s to fill resource gaps during peak times or to provide some specialized set of skills, there’s always a need for great creative partners.
Choosing them, though, that’s the tough part.
Most in-house creatives tend to lean on the people and agencies that have delivered for them in the past. That’s fine in one respect (you generally know what you’re getting), but it doesn’t always help make the clear-eyed, objective case that is needed to build consensus among colleagues and stakeholders.
To evaluate the proposal of any external creative partner — or compare those of multiple partners— I recommend using and circulating the following criteria, ranking the agencies from 0-undifferentiated to 5-exceptional:
Does it seem like they’d be easy to work with? You should feel confident that your voice and those of your colleagues will be heard, and that your requests will be given serious consideration. Additionally, everyone involved should be able to understand their proposed approach to the work.
2: Brand alignment
Does the work in the proposal suggest that they ‘get’ what your brand is about — its personality, visual vocabulary, tone of voice? This is critical, because it’s never just dollars and cents on the line.
3: Translatability (for global brands)
Does the proposal explain how the piece would be localized for priority regions around the world? For some internal teams, even those with global responsibilities, this is an afterthought — one that could prove time-consuming and expensive down the line.
Can the proposed solution reasonably be executed within the cost and time parameters indicated in the RFP?
What are your impressions of the other work they’ve done? Consider the quality of the storytelling, creative execution, production values, etc. Look closely, and keep an open mind about the relevancy of certain pieces to your brand or project.
Will the proposed solution be impactful to your brand and worth the time and effort outlined?
Did they present a unique, thought-provoking solution or a lukewarm idea that could just as easily be applied to any other product/service?
In addition, be sure to allow for summary comments: Overall impressions, comparative notes, etc. Though not quantifiable, they’re often some of the most telling parts of an evaluation exercise.
When you’ve got all the data, and evaluate it in the clear light of day, you’ll be able to make a more objective case for going with an external creative partner.
The Benefits of the In-House/Agency Partnership
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