Why You Should Use A Marketing Brief

Why are we recommending you should use a marketing brief when planning your campaigns? It’s all part of the many detailed reasons why you would decide to partner with a marketing agency. But there should always be one fundamental goal; to help you increase sales.  Whether you need your entire marketing strategy reviewed or have a simple leaflet created, the number one aim is to increase revenue.

It’s for this reason you can’t help but get a tingle of anticipation what they are going to produce for your business. But sadly, too often what you get falls short of expectations. Which leaves you feeling disappointed as you start to try and figure out what went wrong.  Followed by a long sigh as you dig out the agency’s contact details; how could they come up with something so far removed from what is needed?

But why did this happen? The agency seemed to know exactly what you needed. The conversation you had with them went really well. You thought they knew exactly what you were looking for. And yet the work they’ve come back with is, well just wrong.

Well, there’s 3 reasons why it’s all gone wrong and you’re having to start all over again.

  1. The Brief
  2. The Brief
  3. The Brief

If you’re not providing your agency with an appropriate brief containing relevant information that allows them to deliver what you need then you run the risk of wasting  time, effort and money to get what you are after. And remember, this is the same for the agency too. They want to get your work right first time. Which is why you should provide a brief.

So what is a brief – and what should it contain? Here’s a simple and practical guide to help you.

Image of a person preparing to write

What Is A Brief?

Firstly, you shouldn’t get too tied up about this. Lots of people claim it is lots of things, and to a greater extent lots of them are broadly correct. So let’s cut through the mud and just think of a brief as a way to for you to get across to your marketing agency what you want.  It should detail what you are trying to achieve, contains some goals, thoughts, suggestions, and a few boundaries too.

A really good brief is a guiding hand. It gives your agency the framework to come up with a draft concept or response. It helps them to understand what you are chiefly looking for, and crucially what isn’t needed or acceptable.

Why Do I Need To Provide A Brief?

The answer to this is partly given above, but it’s worth repeating. Your marketing agency’s vast range of talent won’t include mind-reading. They can fairly often come up with what you need on the basis of a phone call or one-line email. But it means making lots of guesses and invariably several revisions. That’s not good for your budget.

Instead, you should write down an outline what you are looking for. Keep it simple and use bullet points if you’re a bit pressed for time. And you must set expectations.

What You Don’t Use A Brief For

On the other hand, what a brief is not is you doing the agency’s job for them. We mentioned above that a really good brief is a guiding hand. It should never be dogmatic and directional. Put simply, you should never consider yourself a creative supremo. The fact you did a brilliant job choosing the colour scheme in the spare bedroom of your home does not make you a guru of visual branding.

The whole point of you employing a marketing agency is to partner with experts and profit from their creative nous. So don’t tie them down tighter than Gulliver in Lilliput – give them some room to breath. Besides, you have enough on your plate, so don’t pile more work on top.

The Need For Balance

Conversely, a brief should also not have less definition than a dawn mist. Some years ago I sat through a presentation given by an Account Director at a major London-based advertising  agency. The talk was titled ‘What Is The Perfect Brief?’, during which he  suggested the client should write just 20 words that meant nothing and helped no-one.

His view was that you, as a customer, should just give an agency the freedom to do whatever they like with your money. Details, such as what you’re selling and the benefits it brings, were of no interest to him. He wasn’t concerned with all that. It was tempting to ask him if he got his clients to sign blank cheques and not bother with details such as the amount as well.

What’s In A Brief?

A brief needs to have relevant information about what you want the agency to provide. Depending on your needs this can be quite simple or more involved; a brief for a new website would contain more information than a brief for a sales leaflet. But in nearly all cases your brief will have some basic details including:

  1. About your business
  2. What you want
  3. What it needs to achieve, and the broader objectives behind this project
  4. The target market & customers
  5. Key details that must be included
  6. The company branding hardpoints – logos, colours, typography, content tone
  7. What you find inspiring and why
  8. What you don’t like and why
  9. Timescales and Budgets
  10. Approvals & Oversight

That might look like an awful lot of information to pass to an agency, but if you use a structured approach it doesn’t take as much time to compile as you may think. Much of the above may already exist elsewhere, such as company background or your marketing plan.

But, and most importantly, this information helps an agency to understand much better what will most likely work for your customers. Plus, it can give them a good level of creative freedom to provide you with a concept that fits your business and has the potential to support your work in hitting those objectives.

We’re also going to instigate our very own Clause 83 here; some of the topics above don’t always apply.

How Do I  Create A Marketing Brief?

There are loads of marketing brief templates out there which you can use. We’ll be putting up some of our own marketing brief templates soon which you will be able to download for free too. Which leads us to the next question; what do you actually put in a marketing brief? We’ll take you through some practical examples in future blogs, so remember to bookmark us and pop back to find out more.


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