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The secrets to briefing an agency

Being able to work well with an agency can make it feel like they’re an extension of your team, rather than another team to brief. Here are the secrets to knowing what an agency needs.


The secrets to briefing an agency

Collaboration should be easy. No-one wants to send a brief – especially an urgent brief – and have it come back to them multiple times with loads of questions. We don’t really like doing that to you, either…

But we also know that it’s important for us to have all the information before we start working, otherwise the power of what we can create will be lessened by unclear objectives, mixed messages, and most of the budget being spent making changes just before a campaign is meant to go live.

So, we came up with three key questions per digital agency department that should put you on the right track when you’re working on a brief. A lot of these different questions are highly transferable across expertise, so the more questions you’re able to answer before briefing to an agency, the quicker you’ll get the effective campaign you’re looking for.

Client Services

The main day-to-day relationship builders with people and brands, responsible for briefing all our different experts on campaigns and finding opportunities. What three things do they need to know?

  1. What’s the current situation of the brand and the industry it’s in? As we mentioned back in point 4 of this ‘cultivating creativity’ article, understanding a brand and its industry is key to creating campaigns that will deliver on what the brand wants and stand out from competitors.
  2. When does the project or campaign need to be delivered? The deadline is a key piece of information that allows an agency to create a time-plan for every element of a campaign, meaning that you know exactly when you’ll have something to read, see, or test.
  3. What budget is available for the desired work? Knowing the budget means we know what is achievable, and also if there’s a little extra budget to do something special.

Content

This is the team you come to when you want words and content strategies that will drive action, no matter what channel or campaign they’re used in. What three things do they need to know?

  1. Is there an existing tone of voice we should be using? A brand’s tone of voice is important. It shows its personality and should be consistent across all channels. Writing without knowing this TOV can be jarring to the brand’s loyal audience.
  2. What are the challenges your audiences are facing? Understanding your audience’s challenges means that we can create content they will find relevant and useful. If your brand is useful to them, why would they go anywhere else?
  3. What are the keywords we should be optimising the content for? Keywords are important because it means we’ll show up when people search online. If we know the words they’re using, we can capture their interest, traffic, and conversions.

Design

Eye-catching images, animations, and videos for branding and conversion. Whether you want a website design or a one-off brand design, this is the team. What three things do they need to know?

  1. Are there existing brand guidelines we should be designing to? Brand guidelines are really useful for everyone in an agency, but especially for designers, giving them important information like fonts, colours, logos, branding, and so much more.
  2. If assets are coming from the brand or another agency, are there ‘layered’ files that we can use? A layered file gives a designer everything they need to create something new with images and stylings that have been previously agreed, making brand designs consistent.
  3. Does the image chosen make sense to the campaign’s message? For example, if we’re looking to capture the emotional aspect of a campaign, is an image of a new product or service really going to pull at the heart strings? It’s worth taking a moment to think about it.

Development

Under the bonnet of everything in digital. Without them, none of it would even exist… What three things do they need to know?

  1. Do you know how your audience are using your tech? Are people using your tech in a way that’s different to your initial plans? Or maybe coming in from a different country? If you know how people are using your tech, you can improve the user experience.
  2. Do you have any specific technical requirements or standards to adhere to? If you’re using a specific platform or piece of tech, chances are it has its pros and cons. Knowing what these are means we can create something at its digital best with the features your tech has.
  3. What does success look like for your project? For example, if we’re building you a website or optimising your existing website, are we looking to get more traffic, more time spent on the site, or more conversions? Sometimes, it’s all of the above, but we need to work with these in mind from the get-go.

Social

This team meet people where they spend their time with a mix of organic and paid strategies, driving brand awareness and engagement in the social space. What three things do they need to know?

  1. Which platform is the audience spending their time on? Some brands want to be on all platforms for the sake of it, but if that’s not where your audience is, it’s wasted time, money, and effort. Know where your audience is spending their time and meet them there.
  2. Is there room in the budget for paid social? Social is rarely free-to-play anymore. There’s so much noise that it can be necessary to put some budget into promoting posts or social ads. Think about whether you’re happy to separate a section of the social budget for this.
  3. Are there any new features you think would work well? Have you seen anything new or fun on social that captured your attention? If you liked it, chances are your audience will, too. Of course, we’re keeping up with these features as well, but it’s nice to share.

Email

Email marketing can still be as effective as it ever has been. This team’s expertise has brands hitting inboxes with relevant, useful messages at the right time. What three things do they need to know?

  1. Is your audience segmented? There is no one single ‘audience’ anymore. Understand this and know which areas of your brand are relevant to specific segments. For example, some people have children and others don’t… How will this affect the content they want to see?
  2. Does a specific day or time of send work best with your audience? Testing is incredibly important for all areas of digital, and especially email. If any testing has been run before, letting your agency know the results will drive better engagement.
  3. What is the purpose of the email? Is the email being sent to drive sales, build awareness of a new product or service, or is it simply one of brand discovery? Having a clear purpose for an email means that it will more effectively drive readers towards your chosen goal.

Feeling fired up to write an amazing brief to your agency? That’s what we hoped for. Make sure you never lose that feeling and keep these secrets with you at all times…

Download the secrets to briefing an agency

 

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Ryan Noble – digital content marketing manager

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