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How NOT to brief your marketing/digital agency

April 4, 2013

When deadlines are tight, jobs get rushed. Best practice goes out the window, mistakes happen. But when time is short, it’s even more important to get things right first time. To help you achieve just that, here are five key things NOT to do when briefing your agency – plus advice on alternative approaches.

1.  Do everything verbally
If you know your agency well, it’s tempting to think a quick phone call will be sufficient. It won’t. Put your request in writing, and get confirmation. This way, both sides are clear about what’s agreed.

2. Ask for it by tomorrow
Your agency might say yes, because they want to please you. But If you don’t give them enough time, you risk getting a poor standard of work, the agency risks getting the blame, and you both risk destroying a productive working relationship. Instead, tell the agency as soon as you have a requirement coming up. They can at least schedule the work in, even if the specifics aren’t finalised.

3. Keep changing your mind.
Change your mind once work has begun, and you’re more likely to see delays, confusion and mistakes. You’ll also almost certainly find yourself being charged more. Agree what you want before work starts.

4. Have too many cooks
Without a clear decision maker, there’s a risk of mixed messages. Agree who is responsible for handling queries and signing off work so the agency doesn’t waste time going backwards and forwards between different members of your team or heading in the wrong direction entirely.

5. Leave the agency to work out the details
If the brief is incomplete, the agency may have to fill in the gaps. That’s a problem, because no matter how expert they may be, the agency can’t guess what you’re after. Take even a simple job such as a contact form. Consider the variables: branding, field names, mandatory/optional fields, validation, email confirmations to the respondent....If the agency makes a wrong call on any of these, how happy would you be? 

And thinking doesn’t come free. If you don’t do it yourself, chances are the agency will charge you for the extra time they have to spend on the project.

Never forget it’s your campaign. You’re paying, so you should be making the decisions. And always remember that agency time is your money. Don’t waste it!

Posted by Joel Jarman
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