So you’re starting a new business or need to give your existing business a boost and need some help with your marketing and design, but you’re feeling nervy because you’ve never done this before?

Firstly, congratulations on identifying that you need a professional approach to your marketing. In order to build recognition, you need to portray your brand consistently every time your client (or potential client) sees your brand, so it’s important to make sure you’re doing it right!

The trouble is, while you want to employ an agency the sceptic in you is worried that you’ll get taken for a ride. So how do you go about making sure you get the best value for money?

Here are my top five tips:

1. Confirm your business name.

And by this, I mean if you’re starting a new business make sure that you have:

– Tested the name you like on a great variety of people (get honest feedback!)

– Researched the Internet to make sure there are no other businesses with your name

– Registered your name with ASIC

– Registered your required domain name on the internet (so no one else can get it)

Sounds simple, but there is no point employing an agency to come up with a great new logo for your business, only to find there’s already an existing business already out there with the same name!

2. Know your product/service.

In order to brief your agency (ie. for a flyer, new website, logo, a social media plan, etc) you need to have a really clear idea of your product or service offering. The more information you can give your agency, the better they’ll be to be able to provide quality design for your job first up.

Give them a list of your products and/or services (as well as those you want to provide in the future), the price points, your existing clients, your potential clients and anything else relevant. The more information you give them, the less the agency will need to research which will save you time and money.

3. Develop a Business Plan.

One of the most important tools required in order to brief a marketing agency is a business plan. The information found in this document, including the business vision and mission statements, have a huge impact on professional design and communications as they form the cornerstone of your brand.

Also, if you’ve done a lot of preliminary work on knowing your competitors, your target markets, the existing business environment, etc, then you’ll be able to brief the agency in more detail which should result in them producing work exactly as you envisaged.

4. Have a budget.

Don’t be scared to let your agency know how much money you have to spend. A lot of businesses like to hold their money cards close to their chest thinking that if they let the agency know how much money they have to spend, that’s exactly what their quote will come in. But the truth is most agencies would prefer to know exactly how much you want to spend so they can tailor the best package to suit your budget. They’re not going to say a flyer costs $5000 if you tell them that you have a budget of $5000 (unless it’s a very detailed one!!!).

However if you’re upfront and say you have $5000 to commit to marketing and you want a flyer, they will be able to come back to you with a proposal that that says the flyer might cost $2000, and they recommend that to get cut-through with your desired demographic, it might be worth committing $2000 to an Australia Post mail out of the flyer and $1000 to a social media campaign that reinforces the messaging of the flyer (both of which are optional extras). It will save a lot of time going to and fro with quotes if you’re upfront at the start.

5. Know your likes/dislikes.

Further to knowing your business and products, it’s important to know your own personal likes/dislikes when it comes to communications and design. Things such as colours, patterns, borders, writing tones and personality are all very subjective and it’s a good idea to have an understanding of the things you like. After all, it’s your business and you have to love the way it’s portrayed so make sure you convey the things that you’re fond of and the things that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck!

By having a clear understanding of the above, you’ll be succinct and organised when briefing your agency, saving you time, money and ultimately enabling your agency to produce designs and communications that nail exactly what you’re looking for!