When your company needs some marketing help, agencies are a great place to turn to. Their specific knowledge and expertise in a service will not only produce the work you are after but help it perform far beyond that which you may have been capable of as an internal team.
The success of these marketing projects relies on a good relationship and clarity from start to finish. The more each person understands their role the smoother the project will be. Working with a lot of third parties ourselves, we understand what is needed to have a successful project with external parties.
Applicable to a plethora of marketing needs, we have put together this short guide covering the briefing, assessing and reporting of working with agencies, with examples given on the much in-demand services of animation and videography.
Before the call
Many marketers mistakenly believe the project starts as soon as they contact an agency, but that is not actually the case. The more work you can do in preparation of the brief, the clearer you can communicate with the agency.
Shoot You, a creative agency that specialises in animation and video, refers to a briefing document as 'a recipe': if you have all the ingredients, then you will have the skeleton framework for creating a great brief. So ask yourself what ingredients are needed to form this brief?
One of the best ways to ensure project success is to ensure clear communication between you and the agency. Nominate a single point of contact on your end, and that person will oversee communicating with the agency, circulating videos or other creative material internally for feedback and compiling feedback notes into a single communication with the agency.
Once these key contacts have been agreed on both sides, it is helpful to have a kick-off call to ensure that everyone is introduced. In the day and age of Zoom, having all parties in attendance and visible on camera can really help build that rapport that is crucial to the project's success.
What is the challenge?
It is crucial to communicate this part very clearly to the agency, so ask yourself:
- What is the business challenge you are trying to solve?
- Why are you creating the video? Is it to simplify a process, promote a new product, or communicate with clients?
It's also important to know that you don't need to provide the solution to the challenge. For example, if your challenge is to show a new financial product in an exciting and engaging way, that will be enough to start with. The agency will be able to work on a creative concept that meets that challenge. Here you just want to show the background, i.e. where the project has originated from and why video or animation has been chosen to meet for this purpose.
The main goal here is not that you simply want a video by the end of the project. What would you like the video or animation to achieve? Is it to get more sign-ups to your website? Is it to increase brand awareness? Mapping out exactly what you want to achieve will allow the agency to work backwards and create content that fulfils these goals.
We are all well aware of the importance of bringing a story to life behind your product or business. Key questions to develop this are:
- What is the story you want to tell?
- Have you thought about any overall narrative for the video?
- Is there a beginning, middle, end?
This can usually be tied in with what you want the video to achieve and the challenge you want to solve. For example, if you want to encourage applicants to apply for a graduate programme, consider showing a day in the life of the graduate. Include things like where they would get coffee from in the morning, the kind of meetings they attend in the day, and where they would go for lunch. This will help you visualise your story and this section can have as much or as little information as you would like.
Audience and placement
Understand who the audience is, because internal and external audiences usually respond differently to your brand.
Internal audiences, such as employees, will likely be well versed in the company values and working practices and will be easier to communicate with as they already have an investment within the brand. External audiences need more of a hook - a compelling reason to stop scrolling on social media and watch the video.
Invest time in considering what this hook might be and the multitude of ways you can engage with this external audience. Understanding where the video will be viewed will help in formulating the briefing document and what your final content piece may look like. Does your hook perform better on socials with a direct link through to a product? Is it an eye-catching television advert simply used to drive product awareness? If your video is for an event, you need to consider factors such as ambient noise, and whether it should be understandable with and without sound. You will need to communicate all the key marketing messages through both animated graphics, but also captions and subtitles.
Extra important on any creative heavy tasks, be sure to share any brand guidelines with the third party ahead of them starting work. If, like many smaller agencies, you still haven't gotten round to producing a book of brand guidelines, follow the rules you use across print and digital.
Providing the agency with this allows them to make an initial assessment of your brand and how they can incorporate the style into creative concepts. Particularly if taking your first steps into animation or video, agencies can take the design, shapes, symbols, and colour palettes that you have to suggest a natural development of the brand that works well with this media.
While this can be tricky to cement, making an agency aware of your budget at the briefing stage will allow them to make realistic suggestions and help curb any ideas of stakeholders of overzealous executives. It will mean neither party spend time developing creative concepts that are unrealistic and provides them with plenty of time to suggest good solutions within that budget.
The project deadline needs to be made known and highlighted to all on the project. As an internal team you will certainly have other tasks that rely on this deadline being met. The agency will also need to know so it can use its resources efficiently and effectively. For the more creative concepts, a lack of clarity on a deadline or a short time frame can often affect the project more than the budget.
Beyond these steps, always remember why you asked them to help you and that this is an area they specialise in. While many marketers may feel they need to solve the entire challenge before they approach an agency, it often leads to a better outcome if you approach an agency with the relevant briefing concepts and without a fully-fledged idea from your side to allow for complete creativity. This enables both sides to work towards the best result for your marketing challenge.
Follow these steps and you will be setting yourself up for great results.