Our Top 5 Tips for Start-ups and SMEs

Our Top 5 Tips for Start-ups and SMEs


Over the past 15 years, Spark has worked with many start-ups and SMEs. Take our word for it that we know how you can work best with your chosen agency and create a long-lasting and productive working relationship.

Here are our founder, Neil’s top 5 tips:  

  • Weird Science

In order for your relationship to work, there has to be real chemistry between client and agency. We aren’t saying that you need to be best mates with them and go out boozing every Friday. The best relationships are those with a common goal and a mutual respect. If you feel comfortable with your agency, then you are more likely to be honest with them. With a real relationship comes a mutual understanding of what is going to be achieved and trust on both sides. Be yourself and reap the rewards.

On another note, don’t just chat to the big dogs in the agency; the directors, the seniors, etc.  Actually take the time to meet up with the people doing your day to day for you. Meet the designers, the account managers, the copywriters etc. They will be the people who will know your project inside out. This is all part and parcel of the trust element. The better you know everyone, the more comfortable you will feel and the smoother the project will be.

  1.       Honesty is the best policy

If you have a small budget, then tell your agency. The smaller the budget is, the more potential restrictions there will be to the agency’s time. But as long as this is made clear from the get-go, and you have picked the right agency for your business, then they will already be invested in you and will more often than not be willing to go above and beyond the limitations of a budget (within reason). If they genuinely can’t work to your budget, for whatever reason, they should point you in the direction of an agency that can. Try not to push your agency into it if it isn’t what they can offer. Both parties will simply end up unhappy with the outcome. It isn’t worth it. Save your time, money and energy at the start of the project.

When it comes to loving the creative, we all know how subjective this is. Agencies work to specific processes (that can be flexible to a degree) but the sooner you tell us that you have something in mind, the sooner we can either work with that idea or tell you (with our specialist expertise and in the nicest possible way) that you should stick to your day jobs! Jokes aside, what I mean is that your chosen agency will challenge you and be honest with you too. Always remember that it isn’t really about the opinion of you (the client) and the agency, but about your customer. What does your customer want?

  1. Ring fence

In such a fast-paced digital world, it’s sometimes hard to keep up. Life moves so fast these days and what was at the top end of innovation last week is now at the bottom the following week. With this in mind, be realistic (not just honest) about your budget. Put a percentage of it to one side for any additional costs that may not have been foreseen at the start. With a capped budget, you may not get the best from your agency, which will undoubtedly be detrimental to your working relationship and the creative itself. Get rid of any awkward conversations further down the line and ensure you have an emergency pot of gold.

  1.    You win, we win

The beauty of finding the right agency for you means that all parties are winners. The agency will integrate into your business and most importantly, they will want to be a part of it. They will be the people you will come back to again and again for help and advice; your brand and marketing wingmen. An agency that truly values their clients and the work that they do means that they want to see your company do great; they want to see those KPIs being exceeded. The more you succeed from the work they do with you, the more they will continue to work with you as you change and grow. Win / win.

  1. To Pitch or Not to Pitch

If you are going to host a beauty parade and ask different agencies to pitch, take a moment to stop and think about a slightly different approach. It all comes down to the worth of the job and being smart, really. If you ask a variety of agencies that don’t really know you or your company to pitch to you, how could you expect the answers or ideas to be what you need?

Why not go down the workshop route? Actually see how an agency works, meet the wider team and you will feel if it is the right fit for you or not.  

Worried about their creative abilities? This is why agencies have an online portfolio or case studies on their website. The quality of work and results should speak for themselves so one box has already been ticked with minimal effort.

The more you invest with an agency, (see previous 4 tips), the better the outcome will be. A pitch would not provide you with this and will drain both time and money for your own company. Be smart with your decisions and your future agency partners. And share some of the leg work. We’re all in it together.

If you would like to know more about our work with start-ups and SMEs then please get in touch at hello@creativespark.co.uk.