McDill Creative Recipe

Engaging your agency, one ingredient at a time

Daryn Peterman, July 14, 2022

Anyone that knows me, knows I LOVE to bake. It’s my jam – even to the chagrin of my husband. I can make some kick-ass chocolate chip cookies, pecan pies, and macaroons! If you’ve ever baked, you know that it’s all about precise measurements and following the ingredients and recipes to a tee. (Maybe that’s why Type A me loves it).

The same is true when engaging your agency for a new project. It’s important to have the right recipe up front to get the best out of your partner. Whether you’re talking to a traditional, digital, PR or media firm, everyone needs the same basic ingredient: a solid creative brief.

What is a creative brief? It’s a standard project initiation form that answers the basic marketing questions of who, what, why, when, and how. A place where all pertinent information is contained in one comprehensive document.

A good brief will help guide your discussion with the agency you’re looking to hire. Taking the time up front to complete it, and then sharing it with your agency before you meet, will make the discovery meeting much more fruitful and efficient. It’s like reading a recipe, buying all the ingredients, measuring everything out and starting to mix it together — rather than searching your cabinets to scrounge up whatever you can find, running to the store and then getting home to start baking.

When a client engages us with a creative brief beforehand, we understand the ask, and assemble the right players in preparation for the initial discussion. This kick-off call is always more productive and efficient — it allows us to ask specific questions, and have a more tangible and productive discussion.

Once the brief is completed, we regularly refer to it throughout the duration of the project to ensure we are meeting the goals, needs and requirements of the project or campaign. It’s also a nice tool for you to use as a key element for rallying your internal stakeholders to ensure their feedback and inputs align to it.

So, to recap: why start with a brief?

  • It allows you to get your stakeholders’ inputs together in one place, so the direction from your team is clear from the start.
  • It allows the agency to come prepared for the briefing discussion with clear, actionable questions, ideas and suggestions.
  • It allows the agency to accurately estimate the project cost and timeline, and help manage scope creep.
  • It keeps our partnership (client + agency) honest throughout the process, always referring back to the creative brief as our guide for success.

Here’s our standard agency creative brief we use as a guide for discussions. Feel free to try it out, tweak to your needs and begin to build your own project recipe. And, let me know how it goes!