Convening an agency competition is an important task that requires meticulous preparation and a strategic approach. The process of selecting the right agency for your project is critical to the success of your marketing and communications efforts. An essential part of this preparation is the drafting of a complete and effective agency briefing. I will guide you through the key steps to achieve this.
1. Define your objectives and expectations
Before you start writing your brief, it is essential to have a clear understanding of your objectives and expectations. What results do you expect to achieve with the agency? What is the scope of the project? What are your short and long term goals? Establishing a solid vision will help you effectively communicate your needs to agencies.
2. Research and select invited agencies
Researching and selecting the agencies to be invited to the competition is a critical step. Examine their background, experience and approach. See if they have worked on similar projects in the past and if they have been successful. Make sure they are aligned with your values and vision.
You can use a mix of sources and references such as:
- The search for the best agency in Google, Bing and other web search engines. This is particularly relevant if you are looking for agencies with experience in SEO services or if you want to know the degree of digital evolution of these agencies. Those that rank poorly are probably neglecting their digital transformation and may not be the most innovative in the market.
- Media presence in your industry suggests that the agency has a certain size and industry entity to assure you that they are not an upstart and have both a proven track record and strength in their marketing and communications services offering.
- What other colleagues and professionals in the sector tell you, including journalists themselves in the case of communication agencies. There are agencies – sometimes even commercially successful ones – that are shunned by journalists. Either because of their insistence, their inconsistency or even lack of professional ethics.
- The presence in rankings is not an indisputable fact -especially in the Spanish market, since the lists in Spain are archaic, biased and tendentious-, but it can serve as a guide to learn more about the agencies and their closest competitors. And remember that size does matter… especially if your budget is not particularly juicy for large agencies and multinationals.
Be that as it may, make yourself a composition of place and some sectorial mapping before approaching that desired agency contest.
3. Structure your briefing
An effective briefing must be clear and structured. Divide the document into sections that address key aspects of the project. It includes an introduction, company description, project objectives, target audience, budget, timeline and any relevant information. The more information you provide, the better the agencies will understand your needs.
Use this cheatsheet to define each of the key points in your briefing structure:
- Project name: Provide a clear and distinctive name for the project.
- Executive summary: A concise summary of the project objectives and scope.
- History and background: Brief history of the company and its relevance in the market.
- Mission and values: Mission and values of the company to be considered in the project.
- Clear goals: Define the measurable results you expect to achieve.
- Indicators of success: Specifies the KPIs to be used to evaluate performance.
- Demographics and psychographics: Describe the profile of your audience, including age, gender, interests, behaviors, etc.
- Needs and Desires: Explore the specific needs and desires of your audience.
- Budget and deadlines
- Establish a clear budget for the project.
- Define key deadlines and target dates.
- Include the different phases of the contest:
- Collection of agency credentials.
- Client-agency meeting (if applicable).
- Pre-selection of agencies and call for tenders.
- Sending a briefing.
- Deadlines for the submission of questions and doubts from the agencies.
- Answer to the doubts raised.
- Referral of proposals to the client.
- Submission of proposals (in person or remotely).
- Judgment of the result of the contest.
- Additional documents: Provide any relevant documents, such as market studies, previous research, etc.
- Restrictions and Limitations: Details any restrictions or limitations that may affect the project.
- Contact person: Indicates who will be the main point of contact for the agencies.
- Contact method: Provide contact information, such as email and phone number.
- Compliance requirements: Ensures that agencies comply with relevant legal regulations.
- Confidentiality: Establish the necessary confidentiality agreements.
Communication style and tone:
- Style Guide: Provides a communication style guide for agencies to follow.
- Appropriate tones: Define the desired tone of communication, whether formal, informal, friendly, etc.
Evaluation and selection criteria:
- Evaluation criteria: Describes the attributes or aspects that will be evaluated in the agencies’ proposals.
- Selection process: Explain the process you will follow to select the winning agency.
Signature and date:
- Signature of the person in charge: Leave space for the signature of the person in charge of the call or, alternatively, his/her business contact details. Normally this will be the data of the person leading the agency selection process: marketing management, communication management or human resources management in the case of internal communication agency competitions.
- Call date: Records the date on which the briefing was issued, as well as the deadlines in the different phases of the agency competition.
4. Describe your target audience
Providing details about your target audience is essential. Define your demographics, behaviors, interests and needs. The more accurate you are, the more effective the agency’s proposal will be.
5. Establish KPIs and success metrics.
Define clear metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will allow you to evaluate the success of the project. Whether it’s increasing conversions, website traffic or brand awareness, these metrics are critical to measuring performance.
6. Share contact information
Be sure to include contact information for inquiries and clarifications. Open communication with agencies is essential to clarify doubts and ensure that they are in tune with your expectations.
7. Agency evaluation and scorecard
To effectively compare and evaluate agencies, consider creating a scorecard.
This tool will allow a structured evaluation of agencies based on key attributes, such as creativity, industry knowledge, team quality, among others. You can assign scores from 1 to 10 to each attribute and add up the results.
Cheatsheet for agency briefing
Below, we offer you a cheatsheet in table format to evaluate communication and marketing agencies. You can customize it according to your specific needs and priorities:
Remember: Each attribute can be scored from 1 to 10. The cheatsheet will allow you to objectively compare agencies and make data-driven decisions, even if it has been a while since you met with them.
It is particularly relevant that your budget is correctly aligned to the minimum fee level of the agency you select.
It doesn’t make sense for you to make a significant budgetary effort in order to hire an agency whose basic fee level barely meets your budget.
The most expensive is not always the best! (Nor, of course, the cheapest).
By following this guide, you will be on the right track to selecting the right agency for your marketing or communication. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need additional assistance in this process. We are here to help you make informed and strategic decisions.
And if you are interested in this topic, you will surely be interested in what you should know when choosing a communication agency or how to identify that your communication agency is not working.
Good luck in your search for the ideal agency!