Show Us Your Briefs
At the moment there's a debate happening here at Pull Towers: are good briefs a dying art? These days, we’re seeing fewer well-prepared documents and more two-line emails or stream-of-consciousness Teams calls. We get it, you’re busy. But if you can nail a brief
with the right amount of the right information, explaining the challenge and what success looks like, it will make the subsequent process of discovery a lot quicker and easier.
Your agency should make it clear what input they require from you, and when. Review plans, set aside time in calendars and flag any concerns or blockers. Once agreed, your job is to stick to it. If you miss a commitment, the knock-on is likely to affect multiple agency projects as they scramble to adjust schedules and reallocate resources. This applies to the initial briefing too; we’ve lost count of how many times we’ve lined up people to work on something immediately, only to reach the morning of briefing day and be hit with “sorry, we’re not actually ready yet”.
Stakes Is High
Who else will give input on the work? Your team? Other teams? Your boss? Their boss? The dog walker? Decide who your stakeholders really need to be, tell the agency who they are, and bring them on the journey from the start. Consider creating something like a RACI, mapping out roles for each task and defining levels of responsibility. There should be a designated main point of contact for each project, who has the necessary clout to manage any conflicting feedback and consolidate it properly into pre-agreed rounds of amends.
That’s Just, Like, Your Opinion, Man
Feedback and amends are a natural and expected part of the process, but aim to avoid subjective opinions as much as possible. If your boss doesn’t like the blue one, why is that? Do they really have a strong rationale based on what the work needs to achieve, or does it boil down to their individual preference? Don’t forget, you can always test options with the target audience, evidence of a percentage uplift might be enough for them to put that personal bias aside.
Our Client Services team all have tales of being asked for something new by a client at 5pm on a Friday, and by 8am on a Monday they already have an email in their inbox asking for an update. Yes, your agency should pull out the stops for you when the occasion calls for it, but this should be the exception rather than the rule. Agency people have lives too! There is a skill in judging what is truly urgent, and if you’re flagging most things as urgent, then you risk it losing all meaning.
While working on a project, there is always the chance that you discover work is needed that wasn’t foreseen; best-laid plans and all that. A good agency will have detailed the initial scope of work up-front, for example in an SOW. If it’s not agreed up-front, you shouldn’t assume that it will be included, or be surprised that it’s chargeable. Unlike some agencies, at Pull we look at the bigger picture and aren’t constantly on the prowl to charge you extra, but when you’re asking for more, this decency should work both ways. If you’re trying to squeeze free or discounted extra work from us, to quote The Merchant of Venice: “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”
Sharing Is Caring
Something your agency did achieved great results?
Made you look good? Tell them! Better yet, give them a nice testimonial quote that they can use in a case study, which will continue to make you look good as they promote it. Best of all, spread the word. Forget the box of chocs, there’s no better way to say thank you to your agency than by recommending them to a colleague or relevant contact.
What’s That Coming Over the Hill…
It’s easy to stay heads down with your agency, focussing on current projects or that next deadline, but if you take the time to give them a view on what’s coming up in your world, they’ll have greater context to deliver better work here and now. What’s more, they may be able to proactively help with future challenges before you’ve even got around to them. We know that any agency’s Client Review sessions can sometimes be a chore, but they are often a great space to give them that important look ahead.
Like any relationship, if you want the best from your agency, it’s a two-way street. At Pull we pride ourselves on being highly partnership-minded and we invest heavily to create meaningful, mutually successful relationships over the long term. If that sounds like the agency for you, we’d love for you to get in contact.
Posted 11 September 2023 by Stephen Miller