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Not all campaigns will be successful, but not having a brief, or having one that is “too brief”  definitely increases the likelihood of failure.

The Brief is one of the most important stages of the marketing process, and yet many clients fail to see it’s importance, and either ignore it all together or pass this responsibility to the agency.  Agency created briefs or “reverse briefs”  can work well where the client / agency understand each other well, but there should still be some kind of approval step so that clarity of scope is understood.

briefMost agencies have a standard brief format which may vary slightly by media channel and should include at a minimum these sections

What are we delivering?

This describes what it is that is being built – i.e. Website, design document, TV commercial, Research etc

Who is the Primary Audience(s)

Clients of large brands usually have an abundance of material, which can often lead to the wrong execution.

Being specific is important.   “30-45 year old men“, doesn’t provide the same brief as “30-45 year old single dads who are tech savy”

Tone and Image:

Describing how formal, informal, whether humour is acceptable and to what levels is a lot cheaper to fix here than after design concepts have been delivered.

Message to be communicated

That is, the Benefits, Features, Product / Service Value.

Budget and Schedule:

What is the investment, and timing

Process for delivering the work

How the work will happen

Social Media can often amplify the effectiveness of good campaigns, and potentially even result in a Social Media crisis.

Many agencies haven’t embraced social media, and therefore struggle to provide solid recommendations on how to leverage this conversational media.

So I thought I’d share four sections that I think should be incorporated into standard brief templates.

Clear calls to action

Whether it’s a print ad, sms message or a banner ad, planning what you want the audience to do with your message is often underdone.

Not everyone will respond to the message in the same way.

Who are the Influencers?

Right underneath the section describing the audience, should include some commentary on the key influencer’s both offline and online.

I’m not suggesting that you need to find these influencers, but knowledge of their behaviour,  their needs and what motivates them is vital to being able to engage and then amplify the marketing message

How many positive conversations will this campaign deliver?

Answering this question will often change the actual execution of the campaign, because it’s not only about the buzz or volume of conversations, it’s the generation of positive comments across a range of online and offline channels.  Making it easy for people to share your message is a key component.  Sometimes it’s possible to integrate the sharing of the message with a value proposition.

How will we measure this campaign?

Finally, one of the most overlooked sections of a brief is to articulate the way the campaign will be measured.

Whilst digital agencies tend to focus on web traffic, or new email subscribers, there are an increasing array of ways to value the impact of marketing spend.  Monitoring the volume and sentiment of conversations can help provide insight into what works best for the segment you are targetting.  Wheteher to use unique identifiers to track the spread of information material is best considered at the brief stage.

Whilst briefs are meant to be brief, incorporating these sections into your brief template will improve the return on your marketing investment as well as an ability to capture learnings.

Here’s a comical look at how a brief can go horribly wrong


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