There are 100s of things that could be tweaked or changed to make us more efficient in the workplace; process changes, the way we organise things, the timing of the next coffee fix. But I wanted to go through a few of the things that clients could do to make things easier for the agency they are dealing with (and cheaper for them in the process).
Some scenarios are pretty common for the average agency in their day-to-day work. Briefs that are all over the place, jobs and amends that come in in dribs and drabs, impossibly tight turnarounds, confusion on the next steps and as familiar as these examples are, they can be avoided. I wanted to focus on three easy things clients can do prevent these practices.
Write a comprehensive brief
Writing a good brief is not just a case of dumping all of the information on a page and hoping for the best. If it doesn't contain the right information then it can lead to an end result poorly aligned to the objectives or desired outcome. Simplicity is key and any terminology that could lead to confusion should be avoided. Save any jargon with wishy washy meaning for another day. The below list gives an idea of the information that needs to be included.
Background - Make sure that you provide background on your company as well as providing any materials in the appendix that could be useful (annual report, press articles, history etc.). Communicating the personality of your company within a brief is vital as well as this will be a big feature in the end result.
Objectives - What do you want to achieve and how should it look? What should the general feel be? What do you want to communicate? What is the aim? Do you want to increase sales or is this more of an awareness exercise?
Purpose - The medium used for delivery is important here or at least scope as to what is and isn't possible. Leaflets, web, social media, publicity, advertising, ebooks, posters etc. Make sure you make the desired delivery format is clear.
Target Audience - Who are the people that you want to talk to? Give information on what their drivers are and what influences them.
Timelines - Is there a specific time when the material/work will be launched? Are there any seasonal factors or holidays that need to be taken into account? What are the key milestones?
Examples - Are there any examples of previous activity that you like or have been particularly effective? Have competitors or other companies produced any work that you like? Equally, are there any examples that you dislike.
Budget - How much do we have to play with? This helps keep ideas realistic and avoids disappointment further down the line.
Set a realistic turnaround time
Jobs often come in with very tight turnarounds, which in the time critical world that we live in is sometimes unavoidable. But the thing that needs to be considered is whether the output from such a rushed job is really as good as it could have been. With adequate time, creatives have time to explore further possibilities which will probably result in a better finished product. Additional time factored in when planning jobs can therefore be beneficial.
Speaking to the agency during this planning process to set a mutually agreed deadline is a very sensible approach. As a opposed to dictating a deadline, discuss the job in detail to work out the turnaround time and create a schedule based on that.
Manage the amends process
Amends are necessary with all work. But excessive and sporadic amends can be costly and very time consuming. Things are rarely 100% on the mark after the first round of work so amends will never be completely eliminated. They are in fact value adding in that they help refine work/designs and as such, should be including in the overall timeline. The trick is in managing this process so it doesn't become a hindrance.
To make sure this is the case, the number of rounds of amends should be clearly agreed at the start to ensure that the amends process does not get out of control. As well as this, it is key that instructions come from a single source in order to avoid the confusion that multiple sets of amends from different stakeholders can cause. Grouped amends can also save time as they can be completed in one go. The added benefit here is that grouped amends tend to be more reflective and balanced as opposed to those that trickle in individually.
Agencies and clients work towards the same goal and it's in the interest of both parties to make things easy for all involved. These three simple steps are just basic examples of how things can be made that tiny bit easier for agencies. A happy agency equals quality output which equals a happy client. Win win.