When you decide to employ an agency to help you with a specific project, it’s a good idea to get as clear as possible on your primary objectives and outcomes.
Although a good agency will know how to guide you through the process, coming to the initial meeting with a thorough, well-considered brief will mean you’re both on the same page from the outset.
Why write a brief?
Whether you’re a small business owner or a marketing professional working client-side in a large corporation, if you’re employing an agency to help you with a project – you’ll need to know how to effectively brief them on your project.
Although it can be time-consuming to write a brief, the alternative (verbal briefing) can result in a lost-in-translation scenario where expectations are not met and expensive amends are required. By writing down expectations and needs, the client will usually change their mind and rethink actual requirements, getting a better idea of what they truly require to prevent scope creep down the track.
Additionally, opting for a written brief over a verbal brief allows for fairer payment and an easier management of agency resources. When deliverables are approved on paper, both parties can move forward knowing they’re on the same page.
How to write an effective brief
There are two basic key necessities when it comes to writing an effective brief, and they apply to almost any situation: Clarity and Collateral.
Get clear on exactly what the problem is that you are trying to solve, rather than trying to identify the solution to the problem. The aim of engaging an agency is to meet specific objectives and find guidance in achieving them. The brief should clearly help facilitate this journey.
Tell the agency a little about yourself. Unless you’re creating a brand new website from scratch, provide links to the existing site and outline any existing infrastructure you’d like to keep, such as live chat or payment gateways. Explain why you need to update the site and any goals you have that you’d like to achieve from the new site.
Clearly define your target audience(s) and include an ideal customer profile, if you have one. Outline what you perceive their needs to be and why you believe they come to your website to satisfy them.
Why are you the authority in your field and what do you offer that solves their problem? These answers will help your agency identify who they are building the site for, and why.
Take into consideration the type of content and pages you’ll be using on the new website. If you have an existing website, will you keep the same information? Or will brand new information be needed regardless?
TIP: Consider whether or not you could potentially collate site content prior to submitting the brief.
Additionally, identify early on who will be writing this content and whether it will be Search Engine Optimised, as this will have a large bearing on your overall site success.
Call to Action (CTA’s)
This is one of the most important questions to answer as it underlines your overall efforts in creating the website.
Clear and concise CTA’s relate primarily to your key objectives for the site: what do you want your audience to do and/or achieve from being on your site?
This could be anything, ranging from making a purchase to filling out a survey or signing up to your newsletter.
Providing quick links to your social media platforms has become best practice as users expect to find easy links to any number of social media platforms your company may be using.
Outline the platforms you use that will be required onsite, but also consider adding easy share buttons for the platforms you know your users use (even if you don’t) as they may want to share your articles across to their own niche audience.
From working through the above information, you’ll have crafted a decent understanding of what features you may need for your new website – from an easy-to-use CMS (such as WordPress) to a blog, e-Commerce, or social media needs. It’s fine if you’re not sure – chatting to your agency will allow you both to settle on specific needs and requirements that you may not have realised you needed.
Once you have written out the brief and know what you need, start organising the collateral you have on-hand that may be required by the agency to smoothly begin the project.
If you already have a website or branding you’re happy with, package and provide the logos, style guides, social media identifiers and logins to ensure time isn’t wasted at the start of the project.
A note on logins:
Include hosting, domain, website and additional logins (such as mailchimp) that will be beneficial to the agency. Ask ahead what they will require if they haven’t already.
Spend the time to think about your needs and get them down clearly and concisely on paper. And when in doubt: ask your agency!
Jess Kumanovski, JTB Studios Account Manager
JTB Studios, Digital Agency Melbourne