Are you and your agency on the same page?
One of the issues that clients wrestle with is: How much information does my agency need to meet my objectives?
There are two sides to this question. You can give the agency every scrap of information you can provide and let the agency go through weeding out what they need. But that can be expensive particularly if your agency charges you by the hour for this task.
The other side is thoughtfully considering what the agency needs to effectively meet your objectives. This approach takes more time for you to compile but in the long run it gives you more control, costs you less money and really helps both the agency and you start the project on the same page. This is very important if you prefer no surprises as well as an effective end product.
The first step is preparing for the agency meeting.
Most agencies will provide a questionnaire or backgrounder for you to prepare. If not, ask for one and see what they provide. If they have a questionnaire, great, make that your starting point but keep in mind what you want this questionnaire to do. You want it to communicate clearly and concisely so you can keep the margin of communication error to a minimum. And, never give this to the agency without reviewing it (in person) with them first. There will probably be questions once the agency reviews it and even though you think you have done the best job possible (and I am sure you have) it is the nature of communication to have miss interpretations or items that need more clarification. That is good because open communication is better than no communication. Be more concerned if you don’t get any questions from the agency.
As you prepare for the initial briefing meeting remember to keep it simple. Many companies have acronyms and terms that are not general knowledge so keep communications in layperson’s terms. Do your best to explain the product or service in brief terms. This is why a review meeting is best so you answer the agency’s questions and further describe any avenue that is crucial to the success of the project. Also prioritize product or service benefits as the target audience sees them. Naturally, you will have to weigh this against the competition and take into account the needs and problems of your audience. This process will take you some time but (in my experience) well worth it in the end.