A common temptation is to provide very literal direction on design projects, but this may prevent you from benefiting from the firm’s complete creativity and expertise.
You hire a marketing firm for their expertise and ability to help you overcome challenges with your business.  As professional services go, marketing is pretty hands on and the end results are highly visible.  Also, everyone has an opinion about marketing, regardless of their
involvement in a project or campaign.  Thus, clients have a natural inclination to provide literal direction on projects.  In attempting to be helpful, you, as a client, actually end up hurting your own marketing efforts.

By telling your agency how to convey a message, you preclude any other options the agency may present that might ultimately be better solutions.  Even the most strong-willed firms will eventually bow to the desires of their client or resign the account.

Remember, the firm you have hired has proven themselves to be experts in marketing services you seek.  You should take full advantage of their abilities and allow them to best serve you by bringing to the table what they feel to be the best options for your needs.  Resist the urge to tell them how to do their job.

When reviewing your agency’s work or ideas presented to you and they are not to your liking, follow these steps:

1.  Ask yourself and your agency account manager how the options align with the stated project goals.

2.  Refer to available research or prior work to determine the appropriateness of the options.  For instance, are designs presented within your established brand standard?

3.  If changes are required, provide feedback that offers guidance but does not dictate a specific direction.*  As an example, tell your agency: “I’d like the design to feel warmer,” not “make it yellow.”

Again, you’re paying your marketing firm to do what you presumably cannot, otherwise you wouldn’t be outsourcing your marketing. Forcing your marketing firm into becoming an order taker under values their worth, and you’ll ultimately be over paying for substandard results.

*The caveat here are items that are technically incorrect and are unrelated to matters of preference such as part numbers, pricing, legal terms, etc.  For these, please be specific.