How well do they understand your business
The entire research and design approach needed for a baby product would be completely different from that of an enterprise software product in Fin-tech space. You need to evaluate on how quickly are they able to understand your business model, your audience persona and your positioning in the market. If the Account Manager from the agency is keen to know about your competitors in the first meeting and showcases you his grasp of the business domain in the next couple of days, you might want to keep this agency up in your list.
How varied is their portfolio?
A portfolio that depicts variety not only means that the agency has been working in this business for quite some time, it also reflects their capacity to build custom solutions based on the precise need of their customers. Always look out for an agency that has worked in multiple business domains and verticals and has catered to customers of varied sizes and different stages of venture life-cycle. This speaks volumes for their expertise on comprehending requirements and coming up with out-of-the box creative solutions.
How clearly do they communicate?
Ambiguity and gaps in understanding lead to most break-ups between brands and creative agencies. Look out for agencies that ask you the right set of questions and come back with precise information on the process and other project parameters. While clear terms on cost and duration of the project are crucial, look out for companies that also talk about a benchmark quality and success metric in context of your potential engagement with them. Promptness in email responses also reflects professionalism and commitment of the agency in serving you.
These are some key aspects that can be evaluated even before you commit yourself in your first engagement with a creative agency.
Feel free to comment below with your thoughts. Do mention the challenges you have faced in working with creative agencies in the past.