31 Jan, 2022

Written by Sarah
You have all the great ideas, now it’s time to brief

Briefs are the bridge between a business problem and an effective creative solution. But a third of budgets are currently wasted on poor briefs. Here’s how to get them right.

If there’s one thing I love to see in my emails, it’s a good juicy brief. For a writer, a great brief is as essential as a sharp knife to a chef. It produces a better quality of work, in the optimum amount of time. I’m not here to slice and dice you a fine meal but I am here to bring you the best writing possible. 

Good brief writing is an essential skill for partnerships between marketers and their creatives. It’s about taking your fabulous ideas and synthesising them into a simple, yet informative document. 

Why briefing matters

The majority (90%) of marketers and agencies agree that it’s difficult to create good creative work without a good brief, a recent report has found. Despite this, the briefing process isn’t getting the attention it deserves: 

  • 6 out of 10 marketers admitted that they are using the creative process of the brief to clarify the strategy.
  • 9 out of 10 marketers admit that their briefs change once an agency is already briefed in. 
  • 83% of agencies said that briefs are unfocused 

And unclear or incomplete briefs are costing marketers. Currently, an estimated 33% of the average marketing budget being wasted on poor briefing and misdirected work. 

Ultimately, bad briefing results in frustration for marketing teams and creatives alike. 

The secret sauce 

Briefing is an invaluable skill, but it takes practice. Some of the most seasoned marketers still shudder at the thought of the idea. Knowing how to arm your creative team with what they need can be tricky.  

To get the best out of your creative partner, start with getting these three core areas right. 

  • Identify your goals 

Every campaign and piece of marketing material has an end goal. Think about what you want to accomplish with the material you are briefing in. What overarching business objectives does it support? How does it fit into your marketing strategy? 

Do you want to attract your audience to a new product? Bring more traffic to the website? If you have mapped out any KPIs that measure the success of the project, include them in your brief. 

  • Name your audience 

Have you ever noticed how your tone changes when you talk to different people? Like when you’re comparing Spotify playlists with your teenage niece to when you’re discussing your three-year marketing strategy with the CEO. 

Knowing your audience is critical to creating content that connects with customers. The more information you can include about them the better. Some things to consider include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Background
  • Needs and problems (and how your business solves these) – this the most important
  • Causes and interests

If you have defined personas, make sure to include these in your brief. 

When providing information about the audience, remember we want to get to know them as well as you do. 

  • Scope it out

Scope creep. You can hear the collective grunt of marketers and creatives everywhere, each time those two pesky words are uttered. 

But there’s a relatively simple, albeit time-consuming way to avoid your project blowing out. 

Map. It. Out. 

Think about:

  • Every element / content piece you need to make sure you’ve covered everything – will you need an eDM to promote that article? What about a social media post to push that new promo video?
  • The resources needed to create these elements – will your creatives need to interview subject matter experts? Will you need to provide research and insights?
  • The key messages you need to get across
  • The stakeholders involved
  • Timings
  • Your budget

Once you’ve considered the above, put it all in the brief.

We know that the time it takes to write a good brief is time away from the nine other things you need to do today. Talk to your creative team about getting a reverse brief. Usually they’ll be happy to get the most important details from you over a Zoom or phone call, and develop a reverse brief from that discussion. But do expect to be charged for their time – after all, getting a brief right is challenging work.  

Have a question about briefs or want to send us one? Drop us a line here.

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