How to brief a marketing agency in ten easy steps


You’ve got an appointment to meet with a marketing agency. (Yay!!) But what do you say when you get there?  If you’re like many others, you’ll come to us knowing that your business needs something though you can’t articulate just what that is. Don’t worry – by the end of our first meeting it’ll be crystal clear to all of us

Being prepared pays off, so here are ten tips to an excellent briefing.


First things first

Your business story

When and how did your business start? What was the driving question the business was created to answer? How is your business structured? What is your role in that structure?

What do you offer

Does your business make something, distribute something, measure something, fix something? Do your customers come with specific problems, pains, needs or wants for you to address? What’s distinct about your business compared to the competition?

Your target customers

Try to define 2-3 stereotypical customers with as much detail as possible. Is your business focused on consumers? What age, gender, location, interests or socio-economic grouping? If you aim for businesses or government clients, what sectors do they represent and how do they buy goods and services?

Grouping your customers into key segments helps define those you are appealing to and what messages you want them to hear.

Your current marketing

Are you already employing a marketing strategy, or crossing your fingers? Are you waiting for customers to find you instead of searching for them?

Past campaigns or promotions could supply measurable data that is invaluable for planning the next steps. Consider these examples:

  • We currently have almost 1000 client email addresses. How should we use that information?
  • Our website looks good but hasn’t really translated into more sales in the 10 months since its launch.
  • Our Facebook page has 50 subscribers and we’d like to get that to 500 before Christmas.
  • Winter is traditionally our quiet time. Our 25% discount promotion last year worked quite well, but how can we make it even better?


Your decision criteria

Before you sit down with us, you should know what your ultimate decision will be based on. Is it simply price or are you looking at more than that. What do you need to know, in order to move forward?

  • The size and reliability of our team inhouse
  • The quality and diversity of our past work
  • Proximity of our office to your location
  • Ability to meet a specific deadline


“If an agency doesn’t meet your key criteria, it’s better to shake hands and say goodbye rather than investing more time on a bad fit.” 


Let’s talk specifics

Having established all that important background, let’s move to the matter at hand.


The project objectives

What’s the big thing you want to achieve? And what’s driving you to undertake this project right now?

Some clients come to us seeking new or repeat customers, more referrals, increased revenue or profit, lower acquisition costs, greater market share or a higher return on investment. Some are offering new capabilities, moving into a new market or dealing with new competition.

Your budget

We don’t pay for a sausage sizzle and expect a three-course meal. We don’t save $5000 for an A-to-B car and start looking at new model sports cars. (And we also don’t pay for an international flight and settle for a bus trip!)

What’s your budget expectation? If we know that, we can give you a realistic estimate of what is achievable. Set a maximum and let us propose a solution that fits your budget and constraints.

Your timing

If your project has a hard deadline (like a specific product launch date or event), say so upfront. An agency might know immediately that they can’t meet that deadline. Then it’s time for that hand-shake.

A soft deadline might be something like ‘by 1 December’, or ‘within 8-10 weeks’. It’s all about having enough time to do the job properly while matching the budget.

Some kind of deadline is essential because it gives everyone a timeframe in which to schedule the essential steps: provide information (you), do the work (us), go through two rounds of changes (you and us), approve everything (you) and press Go (us)!

If we spend our time chasing you, the timing inevitably blows out and the budget is spent on phone tag instead of adding strategic value.


Your Must-Haves

In any project/campaign there are going to be things that are must haves and nice to have.

Make this clear during the briefing, so we can quote you on the right things. Often we’ll include the must-haves in the core cost of the project while making the nice-to-haves a range of options to include.

Everyone’s priorities are a little different, depending on their specific needs. We don’t take anything for granted. We want to hear it from you.

Project: Buying a house

Lockup garage with internal access Must-have
Large separate workshop with power Nice-to-have
Large kitchen with plenty of storage Must-have
Kitchen window with water views Nice-to-have


Project: Developing a marketing campaign

An e-commerce capability that integrates with existing inventory management system Must-have
Website featuring original photography Nice-to-have
Strong call-to-action and online contact form Must-have
A form that can be saved and returned to later Nice-to-have


Your key contacts

When we agree on next steps, you need to identify the key contact for the campaign and the key decision-makers. The right people need to have input and understanding of the project from the very start.

Key information to include:

  • Key Contact Names and Roles
  • Business Name
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Social Media


Let’s Make a Date

Don’t just read about briefing an agency, do it. Contact Oddball Marketing on 02 4304 5917 and talk to us about your business.