You may have just selected your new marketing agency, or you may have been working with them for a while. Either way, there are plenty of opportunities for you to increase the value and quality of the work they produce.
However, it’s not a one-way street. The responsibility for success sits with both the agency and the client. We’ve outlined a few of our top tips to follow that will deliver your business better results when working with an external agency.
This should be the starting point for all of the work placed with your agency. We’ve seen all types of briefs, from a ten-page document and presentation, to a three-line message on WhatsApp. But however it’s delivered, it must be clear and concise and outline what you are trying to achieve.
Poor briefs are often vague, loose and worse still, often lead to evolving requirements. This is never good, as the response will miss the mark, as the focus is lost as the goal-posts move.
Where possible, insights into your customers should be communicated in your brief. This is one of the cornerstones of a briefing document and is referred to constantly as the creative process develops. It focuses the creative and with robust insights informing the direction of the work, it stops assumptions and individual opinion diverting the response.
The briefing stage is your opportunity to outline what you like, what have been the inspirations and what the competition is doing. It also gives the agency the project parameters. Brand guidelines are the obvious piece of mandatory information here, but it could also be that the boss hates the colour red!
An important parameter is the budget. While this isn’t always available at the briefing stage, even an indication of an expected level of investment can save hours or unnecessary work, or alternately allow the agency more time for research, development and testing. In addition, if you give your agency an indication, they will work their hardest to get the best results with the resources they have at their disposal.
Measurement of success
While this should form part of the brief, it also has some broader considerations. For example, is the metric an increase in enquiries, an increase in awareness, application number, or a change in behaviour? Whatever the expectations are, they need to be communicated and ideally measurable. At this point, everyone involved is clear about what is expected. There might be a conversation about those figures, but at least they are out in the open.
The softer measures of success are more difficult to quantify. These could be everything from validating the marketing team’s strategy, securing a budget for the next project or making an individual look good in front of their boss. Agencies can help you achieve them if they know the secondary motivations exist.
This may happen pre or post brief, but the buy-in from the ultimate decision-maker is crucial for a positive outcome. Without this all-important level of approval, the work (and probably the budget) from both the team commissioning the work and the agency could well be wasted. It can also go wider than that. All the stakeholders in the project should be involved. This in itself can raise issues and many agency account managers bear the scars of witnessing internal arguments between clients. However, getting all stakeholders involved early in the process is essential if they can significantly influence the final decision and the ultimate rollout of the work.
Feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, is vital to the whole client/agency relationship. However, this can sometimes present challenges with creative briefs, and the feedback can be vague, contradictory, or emotionally charged. Be clear, specific, give examples, really describe what your concerns are.
But also detach yourself and put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Are your personal likes and dislikes influencing your feedback? This isn’t always easy to do, but you need to trust the insights that formed part of the brief and focus on the response you are aiming to generate from your customers and prospects.
On a more practical level, if feedback has been generated from stakeholders, consolidate it into one piece of communication. It will eradicate any contradictory feedback and save time and money in reducing the additional rounds of amendments.
This, in some ways, is the biggest tip of them all. Trust your experts. Agencies will suggest an approach for a reason based on research or experience. Listen to what they say. Ultimately, the final decision sits with you, the client, but always listen to the agency perspective and advice.
Trust goes a long way and while agencies don’t expect you to share your company’s deepest secrets, understanding the broader business direction and developments can add a great deal of value to what the agency produces.
Your agency wants you to be as successful as possible, for self-explanatory reasons. Your success will be reflected in a long and rewarding working partnership. If you follow the above steps and have an open and honest relationship, you’ll reap the rewards. Be clear with your briefs, be concise with your feedback and trust the team with the experience and they will deliver.
Find out here how our clients are working in partnership with us to deliver results for their businesses.