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Confessions of New Business Director (or how to get the most from your agency)

 Last month I came to the end of a three year stint as Account and New Business Director for web design and digital marketing agency Quba New Media in Sheffield. As I'm now moving on to a consulting role at Capgemini I wanted to share the key lessons I'd want to share with client side marketers.

Magnify your briefing documents

Magnification isn't the process of making something bigger. It's the means by which we make something clearer.

I estimate that I've read over 500 client briefs. 90% of these were difficult to understand, missed critical elements of information, requested too much information and on the whole didn't tell me why you wanted to build a new website or carry out digital marketing.

When dealing with a vague brief, agencies will take extra risk measures into account when quoting. Therefore you can expect more variance between quotes and specification. The risk of future requotes and conflict with your agency is also greater if the brief isn't nailed down.

The best briefs include the reason for the project/campaign (e.g. we want to increase online sales by 50%) and are specific about either the requirements or the budget.

I would always ask buyers about their budget and would always get rebuffed with "we want to see your best price". Fair enough, but if you can't be specific about what you want then I'm guessing about budget and so are my competitors.

Tell the agencies what you want to achieve and how much you've got to spend on that and let them tell what they will do with this budget. Then you are able to judge on both price and value much more easily.

Being friendly will get you more bang for your buck

I'm not talking about mates' rates here. It's down to basic human relations.

I know that you're going to trust us as an agency; therefore I don't need to allow for extra project management time for extra phone calls and meetings. I know that you won't try and slip or force extra requirements into the project; therefore I can ensure that we provide the leanest development cost possible. I know that if we do a good job you'll give us the praise and credit earned to help us win future work.

Being nice reduces stress for everyone involved in the project. Don't get this confused with weakness or naivety. Your agency should have respect for you and likewise you should have respect for them.

Communicate your long-term intentions

Letting the agency know your long-term plans enables them to put you on a pricing or payment structure that reflects this. It also gives you the means with which to negotiate, particularly with web agencies who tend to see peaks and troughs in fees as projects start and close.

For example you may have a plan to build several foreign language microsites over the next two years. Discuss this with the agency and you could negotiate a fixed price for all the work over the whole period of time.


  1. 1. A brief should be clear or project purpose, requirements, budget and selection process/criteria
  2. 2. Build a strong relationship of trust, friendship and respect with your agency
  3. 3. Communicate your long-term intentions to get the best price