Phoenix is in the middle of a boom with more than 80 new companies, government entities and non-profit offering 25,000 new jobs in Arizona, according to a report from the Governor’s Office and written about in our local paper

But what people aren’t writing about is the budding ad industry in Phoenix. Phoenix is a great market to find a quality ad agency that isn’t over priced like LA, San Francisco, Chicago or New York. With all the jobs, new talent is flocking to Phoenix right now and the average hourly rate of agency talent in Phoenix is about 65% of that in the mega cities.

Where do you start when researching your Phoenix agency?

Phoenix Business Journal Book of Lists

Many businesses find their prospective agencies through the Phoenix Business Journal’s Book of Lists where the top agencies are assembled. Often agency accounts are also listed and their categories of expertise. You can do so much of your vetting by just looking at the creative of their current accounts. Then come up with a shortlist of possibilities.

Agency websites

Your next stop after developing your shortlist should be the agencies’ websites. Is their blog current, does the site express their philosophy, is it easy to navigate? Generally, you’ll be able to see each agency’s work. This will give you an idea of their range and what they are most proud of. It will also give you more perspective on their expertise.

Client longevity

Sometimes you can find this on their website but sometimes agencies do press releases when they obtain a new account. This can give you an idea of how long accounts stay with a specific agency. This is the top indicator of a positive client-agency experience- length of relationship. A national average is 1.3 months.

Kick the tires

You will want to visit the agencies and get a feeling for the atmosphere. This will also give you some feel for their stability and creativity. Sometimes it isn’t evident that the website is a company for two people with a host of freelancers.

Spend time with the personnel who would be working with your brand. Do they understand the industry you are in? Do they listen to what your objectives are and ask good business questions? Are they looking to solve problems and add value or are they just trying to close business?

The best business relationships are those that develop over time without getting complacent. A good to great agency relationship should be built like any business partnership with an eye on a positive ROI for both parties.