Getting The Most From Your Agency: How to Minimize Spend and Maximize Output.

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We’ve had countless clients over the years come to us with horror stories of huge price tags and tremendous inefficiency from other agencies.  While some agencies might be a mismatch for your particular need, others can be plain unethical.  Here is a short list of ways to get the most out of your agency and make sure they are spending your money wisely.

  • Do your homework and make sure they are a good fit. Read reviews and testimonials of your agency.  Ask to speak with a few references and make sure you love your account manager, because you will be dealing with them day in and day out.
  • Come prepared with a creative brief.  A good creative brief has the following elements:

What needs to be included in the design of this project (what components)  ie if it’s a press kit you’ll need to design a folder, the press release, the CD etc

Brand description

Project description

Product description, if there is product (pricing, positioning, category, distribution, competitors)

What is the brands problem they are trying to solve by hiring the agency?

If this is a redesign, what wasn’t working before

Are their any consumer insights to share?  Demographics?  Psychographics?

Information hierarchy

Design and material constraints

Timing/Schedule

Design you like and why

  • Bring along designs you like and designs you don’t.  Be ready to articulate exactly what you do and don’t like.
  • Give thorough and timely feedback.  Design is subject to taste levels, so if you can articulate exactly what isn’t working rather than expressing what you like and don’t like, designers can proceed more successfully on to an additional round without wasting time.
  • Be upfront about expectations, especially timing.  Letting your account manager know the exact dates you need to launch is crucial.  Moving the timeline ahead when a schedule has already been agreed to is a big no-no.
  • Don’t back seat design. Designers are trained to take your information and display it in the most aesthetically pleasing and easiest to digest format possible.  Altering one small element can throw off the entire design.  Instead of making your own design suggestions, clearly articulate to the designers what you think isn’t working and ask them to come up with an alternate solution.
  • Stick to their core competencies.  Agencies will of course want to up sell you on a whole host of other services.  Don’t pay an agency to do what your in-house creative department can do.  Agencies are paid to think as well as execute.  If its a simple, no brainer design change, leave it to your in house guys.

It is totally unnecessary for a client to pay for extra rounds of revisions if you’ve clearly communicated your goals in your creative brief.  Project scopes can of course change as the project progresses, but when this happens the creative brief needs to be amended, and the client should be advised is the change in the scope of work effects their budget.  Being organized is the best way to keep your project on track and on budget.  Getting a great work product is equally in the brands hands and the agencies hands, so clear communication of goals, timing, and descriptive feedback are key to a successful product.

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