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By Metro Mirror Team
How to Start an Ad Agency?

LIFE IS NOT SIMPLE ANYMORE. There used to be a time when the true worth of a product was measured by its efficacy and durability. This is no longer necessarily true. It's not just the quality, which is paramount in establishing or enhancing the market presence of a product: it's packaging and presentation. There are very successful products in the market today with no apparent need and yet people buy them ferociously. The reason- Advertising. It does not matter if there is no demand for a particular product, proper advertising can not only create the demand for the product, it can also ensure that product becomes a household name. Whereas before a product required advertising to increase it's sales, today it requires for it's survival.

Advertising is the wave of the future. There are more Ad Agencies sprouting up today than any other form of business. People now prefer to be better informed about the product choices in the market and who better to tell them that than the very people making that product - through their advertising agency, that is. The demand for quality advertisements and related functions hold a lucrative and promising alternative for those looking for an independent career option.

But be warned, advertising is not for everyone. Creativity is an obvious essential and along with that you must possess a charming personality as well as being good with finances. Keep in mind that a professionally designed ad is far more complex than a pretty face with a slogan.

Do you fit the bill? You do, if you have a flair for creating new ideas and themes. You also need to be able to market your agency or products and must possess a knack for effectively convincing a prospective client to come to your agency. You need not possess any prior qualification to go into advertising though, if you are interested, a lot of professional institutes offer short-term courses, diplomas and degrees in advertising.

Once you have decided that advertising is the career for you, the next step is the creation of an office. Initially, if your finances are limited, you can even begin at home. Once that is settled, you can start by designing brochures and leaflets for small clients. You need not even employ any people for that. But, if you are starting an agency (whether individually or on a partnership basis) dealing with the releasing of ads and also designing part of it, then you will require artists, visualisers, copy writers, media managers, studio managers, an art director and a DTP operator. A client service executive may be required if you don't want to handle the clients on your own. Thus, you have to necessarily organize a small team to get started. If the finance for all this is a problem for you at the moment then consider commissioning freelancers for at least some of the functions. Your initial investment won't be much, provided you have a small place to start your business. But, it is advisable to keep a kitty of about Rs. 2,00,000/- for the various salaries, stationary, and other incidental expenses in the first few months when there may not be any income generated.

Your growth depends exclusively on your own hard work and determination. Always be on the lookout for new business opportunities. Try to keep a good number of contacts in the media business with people who are willing to recommend you to the clients. Don't concentrate on multinationals from the beginning; instead try to establish a good rapport with the small scale sector. SSI units like spices, handicrafts, instrumentation; resellers, etc. are far better in the beginning because they prefer new or small agencies. The larger agencies either reject them or their budgets. As in any other business, team-work is one of the single most important factors in determining the success or failure of a company. You must strive to bring together ideas to develop into a Unique Selling Point (USP) that'll lead a particular campaign. If the ad has been properly designed, even a poorly created product will sell, bringing your agency into the limelight. Don't relax after tasting the initial success and your business will increase by leaps and bounds. You have to continually prove your dependability and trustworthiness to your clients to get their trust and of course their billing.

As far as earnings are concerned, an ad agency always retains or earns 15 percent of the total amount spent on the release of an ad from the client.

This gives rise to another situation where caution must be exercised.

Remember though, not everything in the ad world is as glamorous as it may seem; you have to be on your toes every time even if it sometimes means defeat. You may put in long hours to land an account and nothing may come out of it. You must learn to take a 'no' and sometimes how to convert a 'no' to a 'yes'. You will be required to sell any thing and everything but be very cautious in selecting your clients. You may end up getting a bad name if the company you designed the ad for is taking the public for a ride. Such companies may show illegal or falsified documents to prove their credibility. The ad agency may not be directly implicated in such scams but you could definitely get a bad name for your agency. And in a business based on mutual trust and understanding, a bad name could be disastrous.

As far as earnings are concerned, an ad agency always retains or earns 15 percent of the total amount spent on the release of an ad from the client. This gives rise to another situation where caution must be exercised. The company may not pay you at all. To avoid this risk, it is beneficial to get an accreditation, by the Ins (Indian Newspapers Society). Once you get the accreditation, you are assured of your 15 percent commission, as there is always a deadline for the concerned company to pay up before the ad is actually published. To acquire this accreditation; the agency has to have an annual turnover of Rs. 50 lakes which is not too difficult to achieve for small agencies. There aren't any government formalities to be fulfilled, but the accreditation will also help in getting you bigger clients as the superiority and reliability of your agency will be, in most cases, assumed.

Among the major risks, only two are worth mentioning. First as already mentioned, sometimes clients don't pay up. The second risk is that sometimes even after the ad has been designed according to the ideas and instructions of the client; they tend to reject them even though there are no major drawbacks with the ad. This will, obviously, discourage the whole creative team. It is totally unfair, but it happens and you'll have to learn how to deal with it. This will require very delicate handling and should be trusted only with an experienced client service executive.

If you do not want to involve yourself in this whole affair immediately, you can also start initially by specializing only in the production, releases, creation or the marketing of ads. Whatever type of an agency you may choose to start, you must always remember that, to get the trust of your clients, you must not only be more creative than the competitors, you must also be able to deliver on time the services required of you.

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