Originally published in BtoB Blog, March 13th, 2012.
While agencies are eager to do a great job for their clients, my experiences show that it is vitally important to prepare them adequately. To get them started on the right foot, clients need to take the time to familiarize the agencies with the relevant information about the project, product or campaign. An up-front investment of this type will yield long-term benefits and a better end result.
Since most marketing organizations interact with multiple agencies, we need to ponder the best way to brief them well? To me, there are two types of agency briefing:
- Annual Briefing
- Project Briefing
Annual Briefing- ‘Agency Day’
At Intel, we host an ‘Agency Day’ two months before the New Year to update approved vendors on the upcoming objectives, key product focus, target audience, communications strategy and our overall expectations.
- Business Marketing Plan Overview (with research and trends)
- Messaging and Positioning for Key Products
- Creative Guidance (if creative development is done)
- Media Plan
- Social Media Plan
- Digital Marketing Plan
We’ve found it’s very efficient to update all agencies at once.
They usually appreciate hearing the upcoming strategic direction so that they can better prepare to support us. It is very important to have at least 80% of our planning complete in order to give our agencies enough information on which to act.
Project Briefing- Project Meetings
The ‘Agency Day’ offers a high-level and corporate-wide marketing strategy so that agencies have a 20,000-foot view. You still need to provide project-specific briefing to agencies. For most projects there are usually regular meetings to track the progress and resolve issues. At the kick-off meeting, I found it’s very useful to share the following three documents with my agencies:
- Marketing Plan/Project Scope/Expectations: I start with a single slide on an overview of the Intel Business Marketing Plan. I also share how the specific project ties to the overall strategy. Lastly, I clearly define my expectations to minimize misunderstandings.
- Messaging and Positioning of the Product: We need to make sure that agencies understand how we intend to position our products. The tone and manner of the positioning will help them to create content. If you don’t have an official messaging document, I’d recommend that you share the technical specification. Go through the technical specification documents and identify 2-3 key features that they need to know about your products.
- Brand Guidance, Style Guide or Creative Guide: It’s important to share brand, style and creative guides with agencies so that the look-and-feel of your project is consistent with your brand.
In order to get the most out of the agency relationship, you need to help them so they can help you. The beginning of a beautiful relationship starts with clear guidance!