How to Brief an Agency

SocialB Digital Marketing Blog Last modified: 30 Jun 2023 by Evie Pettit
Digital Strategy

To work successfully with an agency, everyone needs to be on the same page about what they’re aiming for.

You might be looking for an agency to provide a single service (for example paid advertising, SEO, or social media management) or you might be looking for an agency that can lead your full digital marketing strategy. Either way, it all comes down to clarity and everyone knowing the role they play in the bigger picture.

You want to know your agency understands your needs and can deliver results. To start as we mean to go on, a clear brief, or working with an agency to define that brief, will help to ensure that expectations are clear.

If you’re thinking about reaching out to an agency for support with your digital marketing, here’s some tips on how to develop your brief.


What does a good brief look like?

While every brief should be specific to your business needs and challenges, there are some key information points any agency is going to want to understand from you in the early stages.

The brief does not need to be your ode to existence and a chapter-and-verse account of your business. We’ll get to that later. The brief is meant to be just that, brief. A snapshot of your challenges, your needs, what you want to achieve, where you feel the gaps are in your internal team or current setup that would enable you to achieve success, and therefore why you’re reaching out.

The brief is the springboard for you to then have exploratory calls with potential agencies you’d be interested in working with.

If you challenge yourself to answer every question in the brief, you’re setting yourself an impossible and unnecessary challenge. Those calls are where we can dig more into the detail.

Giving an agency the opportunity to review the brief and meet with you to explore it in more detail will help you in the long run in selecting the right agency for you. The way an agency conducts itself during new client discovery should be a good indicator of what they’re like to work with in general. (p.s. you can read more on how to choose the right agency in our blog here).

While you will need to invest some time in this process, if it means finding an agency that can partner with you, work collaboratively with you, and add value to your business, then it’s worth the time to start off with.


What are the essential points to include in a brief?

Objectives – provide some information on what you want to achieve, alongside some basic background and context. For example, “we’re a UK-based manufacturer looking to expand internationally, specifically we’re looking for support from an agency to expand sales in Germany…” or “we’re a non-profit association in the technology sector and we’re looking for an agency to support us with promoting an event for CTOs…” or “we’re a homeware brand looking for support with PPC, we’ve been managing Google Ads internally with some success but need help to make this more profitable for the business”

The challenge – ultimately there will be a reason you are seeking agency support, so make that clear. Is it that you don’t have the time or resources internally? Do you need specialist skills and knowledge? Have you tried something before that didn’t work? Have results suddenly plummeted and you don’t know why? Has the market changed, prompting you to look for new ways to engage your target audiences online? This is where you can provide some valuable context and background on why you are looking for help.

Target audiences – who are your target audiences, where are they? Do you want to focus on targeting a particular audience? Are you targeting a new audience?

Channels – if you know what channels you want support with, include it in the brief.

Timeframes – set some expectations here on when you’d like an agency to get started, and potentially when you’d like to receive quotes and proposals, and when you’d like to schedule pitch meetings.

Budget – provide a guide on what budget you have allocated, either an overall project budget, or a monthly budget for a set period. Providing a budget will enable an agency to give you a realistic recommendation that is truly tailored to you based on their understanding of your resources. You don’t want an agency to come back to you with a great proposal only to realise it’s way beyond what you can sign off, that’s just going to waste your time and put you back at square one.


Some other additional information that could be helpful could include:

Your team and key contacts – you might have an in house team that would be involved, or you might be working with other agencies that support with other areas of digital marketing. This should be included in your brief so that the agencies you reach out to know your current setup and the parameters of what you’re asking for.

Non-negotiables – if you have any non-negotiables or policies about the suppliers you work with, get that in there up front. If these things are going to come top in your decision-making process, make sure you think about that early on.


In conclusion, writing an agency brief doesn’t require blood, sweat, and tears!

Follow these simple steps to create a one-pager that really sums up where you are now, where you want to get to, and what you’d like to explore with the agencies you choose to reach out to.

Your brief will help you to define your needs, set clear expectations from the start, and enable you to have valuable and exploratory conversations with prospective agencies, ultimately enabling you to choose the right agency for you.


If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me on

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