"It will cost how much?"
"really? It would take a fortnight?
This attitude isn't helpful, as in some cases an agency is often the best and cheapest option. It's a shame to let a lack of understanding - by both parties - get in the way of what could be a really exciting project with great results, so here are my top 5 tips for working with agencies:
1. Pick the right one - it may sound simple but think hard about who you want to do the work. It will cost you time and money to hire another agency to unpick and redo a botched job. Let many agencies pitch, but don't be bullied into giving the contract to the agency with the most persistent Account Manager or Business Development guy. Mutual trust and respect is key here and you can tell a lot about their attitude to a project by initial conversations. Go with an agency that listens to your requirements from the outset, but also one who can contribute and build on your own ideas - it is this expertise and added value that you are paying for.
2. Write a good brief - even the best agencies aren't psychic and digital projects can be an especially tricky to verbalise if you're not at home discussing technology. If the end result is nothing like what you had envisaged, the chances are you haven't conveyed your ideas properly so it's worth taking the time to explain in writing (and face-to-face if possible) exactly what your aims are at the beginning. Clearly stating your desired message and target audience, your expectations and (at the risk of sounding wanky) 'what success looks like'. Don't be afraid to tell the agency how you expect this project to make you money!