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What creative agencies want to tell you before meeting

Your agency wants a kickoff meeting? Unless you’re into football, a kickoff doesn’t exactly sound like the most appealing of first meetings. The uninitiated are no doubt feeling a little nervous right now. I mean, those kooky creative agency folk are intimidating enough with their tight pants that don’t quite reach their ankles, perfectly trimmed facial hair and excessively large black-rim specs, right? You’ve heard that things can get a little wacky in the ad world ... should you be worried?

Stereotypes aside, a kickoff meeting with your creative agency is actually a very important part of a project. A kickoff meeting is intended to help you get to know your creative team a little better, to talk about your project and scope of work and get a contract sorted so everyone is on the same page before work begins. To get the most out of this meeting, it helps to go in a little prepared.

Here are 5 points that creative agencies wish all clients knew before their first kickoff meeting:


1. Be prepared to answer questions about your business

Not surprisingly, when a client comes in prepared, it makes for a much more productive kickoff meeting. To make this process easy, your agency should have given you an outline of who needs to attend, and an agenda to cover for the meeting.

Your creative agency will be aiming to extract as much information as possible to gain a greater understanding of your desires and expectations for the overall outcome of the project.

They should send you a list of questions so that you’re prepared to answer them with relevance during the meeting. These could include:

  • company background
  • company values and goals
  • your points of difference
  • marketing objectives
  • specifics around your current marketing initiatives - platforms, tools, conversions, ROI, challenges
  • budget
  • timeframe
  • target audience / demographic
  • branding guidelines
  • copy / design specifications and requirements
  • competitors

Specifics are important here - particularly with budget. Getting all the information from the get-go means your agency is more likely to create a campaign that is aligned with your business, your goals, and your budget.

2. We’re not telepathic


“I don’t know what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it” are fourteen little words that will crush the creative will of any agency owner before they’ve even started. Trying to nail your brief suddenly becomes about as easy as stapling wet noodles to the wall.

We don’t expect you to come with a crystal clear brief, but do try to articulate what you want as best as possible. If you can’t quite find the words to describe it, give it a go anyway. Chances are your creative team have worked with plenty of clients in the same position and will have the right questions to ask you to help get an understanding of what you’re trying to say.

A kickoff meeting is a great opportunity to brainstorm, so if you genuinely don’t know what you want, at least offer a clear idea about what you don’t want to give us somewhere to start. Take a look at competitors, or other examples of advertising that caught your eye (for the right reasons, or the wrong). Think about:

  • what colours you want
  • what fonts you like
  • what design elements work
  • how you feel about a brand when you look at their branding or advertising

3. If CPAs, CPLS, BRs and BANTs make your brain hurt, let us know

Talk of hashtags, platforms, or A/B tests can leave your head spinning. It’s important that you have a really clear understanding of what is being agreed upon in your project brief, so avoid the ‘smile-and-nod’ philosophy if the creative team are dropping jargon bombs and throwing out acronyms faster than you can say ‘WTF?’.

We are used to defining these crazy concepts for outsiders. Ask us to explain it better; chances are we’ll have some sort of snazzy infographic to help.

4. Trust us, we’ve done this before


We’ve got an established agenda for our kickoff meeting, because it works. We know the questions to ask, the checklists to check and the groundwork to lay to help ensure we get all the information we need to create the best campaign for your business.

We’ve also been burnt before, so establishing a framework is important for both us and you to avoid scope creep. We need your buy-in on all aspects of the project before we get started to avoid discrepancies and disagreements down the track. We use this time to set a budget and timeframe and present a clear process to you so you know what to expect.

If you don’t walk out of the meeting feeling completely confident in your agency’s approach, then they’re perhaps not the right team for you to work with. Feel free to ask us any questions. If you want to see examples, results or a walk-through of the process then a good agency will be more than happy to share.

5. But, we’re not necessarily going to get it right first time

Despite our best efforts, we don’t always get the result you want, first time. And that’s perfectly normal. At your first meeting you will need to agree with your agency around how many rights-of-return you have before they start charging you for edits and amendments, but it should be considered a given that you will need to go back with some changes.

Expect that creative discretion will reign when it comes to design decisions, but the more information that you can bring to a kick-off meeting, the more likely it will be that the creative team will create something that you love!

If you’re a creative agency, have you got your onboarding process nailed? What measures do you take to ensure your clients have a clear understanding of what to expect from a kickoff meeting? If you want to create an effective onboarding process for you and your clients, we can help. Download our FREE Client Kickoff Playbook which details a process for a successful client kickoff meeting.

What else do you wish your clients knew before their first kickoff meeting? If you’re an agency struggling to get your clients on board with the kickoff meeting process, then why not share this article with them?



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Monica Shepherd
Monica is a marketing copywriter for WorkflowMax, creating content for the website, blogs and ebooks. Having run a copywriting business helping a wide range of businesses create stand-out marketing and website content, she has a thorough understanding of the challenges business owners face. By sharing this insight at WorkflowMax she can continue to follow her passion for helping small businesses punch above their weight.

Monica Shepherd