Should I hire an advertising agency?

I’m trying to piece together an advertising campaign myself, which seems quite time consuming and involves a lot of skills I don’t really have.


At what point do I appoint an ad agency, or is this just a prohibitively expensive option for a start-up like me?


Hiring an advertising agency is an expensive process. You have to pay for their time developing your campaign, creating the ad and then for the media to promote it.


Despite this, advertising agencies exist because they know how to make an idea sell. If you’re thinking big with your business, working with an ad agency may very well be a good investment.


If your goals are a little more modest to begin with, the lean start-up methodology is probably for you. In making the most of a DIY advertising campaign, you should make a list of what you’re doing well at (for example, the idea, task management, script writing) and what you’re struggling with (for example, filming, media buying, design).


Brands such as Big Richard’s condoms have used overseas specialists on sites like and oDesk to make up for their downfalls at rates up to 90% cheaper than Australian options.


Many of my clients opt to use final year students and recent graduates in the areas that they’re lacking. While this can be a bit risky, most of the time, you’ll find you have very passionate people working hard to create something that they’re proud of for a fraction of agency cost.


Graphic designers, cameramen, animators and voice-over artists are all skills that you can find relatively easily online or with a little networking.


Whatever decision you make, a strong advertising campaign needs three key elements:

  • A simple and powerful message – usually determined by your marketing strategy.
  • A goal – is it to build brand recognition or increase short-term sales?
  • The right place to publish it – banner ads, radio, television Facebook, etc. The aim is to minimise wastage and ensure that each medium is as targeted as possible.

If you’ve got the time and are only lacking a few skills in the execution, then continuing to manage the campaign internally may be the right move.


Otherwise, it’s hard to look past the skills of advertising agencies.


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