Over the years I have been on both sides of the agency fence. I’ve been a client hiring agencies to produce marketing pieces for my company, and I’ve been the agency working on my clients’ projects. I’ve also been an agency liaison for a large company, managing the day-to-day minutiae of various agency projects so my clients can get on with their jobs. Seeing this from all these points of view, I’ve seen how things can go right and go very wrong. Below are some of the things that you can do to make it easier for an agency to work on your project — which makes your project cost less.

  • RFQ – The RFQ (request for quote) is usually the first step in any project. Your RFQ might be a 4-page document or simply an email asking an agency to help you out. In any case, when you ask an agency to do something for you, take the time to completely spell out what you want them to do. This will give you and the agency a blueprint to work from, making sure that everyone on the project has the same plan in mind. See more about starting out with a solid RFQ.
  • Scheduling reviews – When the agency gets your project to a “first draft,” they will send it to you for review. Whether it is a small postcard or a 20-page white paper, take the time you need to be thorough in your review and include any other stakeholders who should be involved. One of the most common reasons a project goes over budget is because it ends up needing more revisions than originally planned. Thoroughly reviewing the project early can prevent this.
  • Rolling-up feedback – Often a project needs to be reviewed by more than one person. You can go a long, long way toward avoiding missed edits and keeping project costs down if you will take the feedback from all the stakeholders and roll them up into a single document. This way the agency doesn’t have to go through multiple copies of a document to get all the feedback (and possibly miss something), and doesn’t have to figure out how to reconcile conflicting feedback. Here’s more about rolling up your reviews.
  • Clear communication –  “That looks nice” is not the same thing as “This is approved.” Communicate clearly with the agency so they know exactly what you need and what their next step is. My golden rule is that nobody on a project should ever be making assumptions.
  • Finishing the project – Way back when you created your RFQ, you should have spelled out how to finish the project, What happens with the finished work? What deliverables do you expect the agency to provide? Will you need the agency to get something printed for you, upload files into your document repository, or send artwork to your advertising partner? Be sure the agency knows what deliverables you expect (files, printed work, etc), and how to end the project (giving you the deliverables , uploading files to your system, etc.)

The moral of the story

Time is money, so anything you do to alleviate confusion for your agency can make a big difference to the cost of your project. Communicate clearly and make sure nobody has to make any assumptions.

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