When looking for an agency or designer, interview prospects just as thoroughly as you would potential employees. Ask about:
Rates: Do they charge by the hour or by the project? If they charge by the hour, be cautious, says Jim Kunkemoeller, vice president of sales and marketing at Great Lakes Orthodontics in Tonawanda, New York. "You can spend a lot of money educating someone on your business."
Portfolio: Ask to see samples of past work. Review it for both originality and quality.
References: Get contact names, numbers and a description of the project. Ask references to rate their satisfaction with the agency or designer's work.
Industry experience: How willing are they to learn about your business and the dental industry in general? "The more your designer gets to know you, your business and products, the more he can do for you," says Becky Vasquez, co-owner of Becden Dental Laboratory in Draper, Utah, whose designer initially reviewed all of their marketing materials, from letterhead to envelopes, and even spent some time in the laboratory.
Consider including the designer or agency representative in laboratory meetings or trade shows to help them get to know you better. This "inside know-how" will help make your copy, design and overall advertising message work together to attract your target customer.