SME Directors and Managers are often swamped with work and usually have roles that are quite broad which makes them quite time poor and action oriented. This post is about empowering these people to achieve their sales objectives quickly and efficiently by simply creating a brief for their projects.
Who is this post for?
There is a large proportion of the community that simply don't understand marketing and what is expected of them when they are engaging with a marketing consultancy or agency (and that's ok). They want to take ownership of their projects and ideas, but they simply need a little bit of an education, guidance and direction on how to get going.
For this population, what I would state is that you must know that you are investing in an agency and that in some ways you should think of an agency like an employee.
For example you would never ask an employee to come and work for you and give their time and ideas for free, so why is talking to an agency any different. If you are serious, you must understand that you must compensate them for their efforts, after all, they are running a business too!
If you want to get the most you possibly can from your agency for what you are willing to spend, then be prepared to invest the time in being prepared!
What you should do to grow your business
The Marketing SME team are often asked to grow a business or increase sales with the expectation that our marketing knowledge will magically create this phenomena with absolutely little to no background information.
We're often asked a very open ended question ...'what should we do to grow our business?'
The fact is, we don't actually know your business and even if we gave some initial answers, would you even understand the potential that we are seeing for your business? most likely not.
For those clients that use our services, it is our obligation to give clients the best possible output for the information that we receive.
When this question is asked
It is our obligation to give clients the best possible output for the information that we receive, however, this question is usually asked:
- at the first meeting
- with minimal background information provided
- without a specific brief provided
- without a marketing or business plan to drive the conversation
At this point we try to explain that although our track record is solid, that we're just not fortune tellers. When on project (or retainer) it is our business to get up to speed as quickly as possible from you and to give you the best possible recommendations (or output) based on our knowledge and experience.
Tips on getting agencies working best for you
There is only one tip really, understand the type of project that you would like to do and create a brief for that project. In the absence of knowing what to do, then prepare as much background information as possible and be very clear about things like:
- Your current situation
- Your objectives
- Your budget and resources
- Challenges you are facing
- What you have done in the past
- Things you know have worked
- Organisations that inspire you and why
- Competitors and their activity
Be honest and up front as to what your financial and resource limitations are. Allowing ego to get in the way serves no purpose. It's very simple, what is your budget and what are your expectations?
If you feel as though you are a small player, then own it. If you feel as though the solution swallows up your entire budget and you want to stretch the budget across as few activities for the year...then let it be known. If you are nervous about the discussion because it is uncharted territory (and you're manager may not approve it), then be up front.
If the agency is smart, they will find/create a solution that will serve your unique situation and purpose or simply refer you to someone that may be able to help you.
The Answer: Create a Marketing Brief
If you are reading this you may not even be aware of what a marketing brief is.
Simply put, a marketing brief is a detailed instruction of your problem, ideas you may have to solve that problem based on your intimate knowledge of your business, your allocated budget and finally what you can be provided by you in an effort to move solve your marketing problem and grow sales.
Providing a marketing brief allows for an intellectual and professional discussion with your selected agencies (no matter what size you are). There are various briefing templates specific for various types of projects. Don't hesitate to get in touch with the Marketing SME team for access to our complimentary briefing templates.
Types of briefs
Briefs that are very specific to developing marketing communications collateral, are creative briefs. Briefs specific to managing entire marketing programs such as online advertising or a sales push are covered by campaign briefs. If you're looking at improving your online presence, you may need a website brief.
You may have a project specific to marketing systems, by which you may have to read a little more about the specific system type (e.g. email marketing program, CRM, order fulfilment etc) and develop your own brief based on how you would like the systems to work with your businesses processes. In this instance, we would suggest that your map out the process and then the ideal systems could be found to fulfil your needs.
If you don't know where to even start, then consulting based options, planning and reverse briefing may be the best option for you.
Benefits of Briefing
Your brief will most likely not answer every question that the consultant or agency needs and usually follow-up meetings are required, however, what it does highlight is:
- Your commitment to trying to achieve the best possible result in the most efficient time frame for your own project.
- Sets a foundation for measuring success or failure.
- Helps you to have a clear understanding, by reviewing your own requirements.
- Budget and timeline expectations.
- Highlights to the third party that you respect their time.
A brief is a great way of not only bridging the communication gap with a agency, but also with your peers and management within your organisation. It highlights your professionalism and your ability to forward plan.
Most importantly, a brief forces you to do is to ask yourself and answer 'what do I really need and want to achieve with what I have'. If you have clarity on this, then it would save you in time, monetary investment and most importantly get you achieving results sooner.
If you are lacking in developing the brief, then you should probably seek an agency or consultancy to help you develop a brief to help you clearly understand exactly what you are looking for.