The vast majority of campaigns and marketing activities start with a brief, i.e. a document that gathers the key assumptions about the campaign. Why is it needed? What is the role of a marketing brief, also often referred to as an advertising brief? And finally, what should it look like? You will soon find out about comprehensive answers to these questions.
Regardless of what form of marketing activities you are interested in, cooperation with an agency or a freelancer usually starts with a brief. This is how SEM, SEO, digital, video, social media and even PR agencies work.
Marketing brief – definition
There is no one fixed form of how such a document should look. Most often, a marketing brief takes the form of a text document (doc / pdf), but it can also be a power point presentation or even a video recording (although it is a rather unpopular form). It is crucial that the brief contains all the necessary information about the planned activities / campaigns and the terms of cooperation.
Why make a marketing brief?
If we were to shorten the answer to this question to one sentence, it should be written that the brief is there to enable the achievement of the assumed goals. In marketing, almost nothing is binary. There are many different ways to approach the same topic or problem, and it is rarely the case that only one solution is correct.
The advertising brief allows the agency with which you may be cooperating to better understand what exactly you expect, what is your goal and what are the conditions for future cooperation (therefore the brief should contain, among others, information on the planned budget and scope of activities).
Let us take an example. You run an online store and your goal is to have more customers. There are many different ways to achieve this goal, from SEO to social media advertising to affiliate marketing. Will only one solution be right? Of course not! But maybe you, as the principal, have some requirements in this regard. For example, you may want to limit yourself to a performance marketing solution. This is the key information for the agency cooperating with you! Therefore, it should be included in the brief.
On the other hand, the brief is an extremely helpful document for you as well. It helps to focus on a new marketing project and rethink it thoroughly. It may turn out that in the brief, the agency will ask you for information that you did not even take into account (e.g. actions taken by competitors or previous marketing campaigns). Then it is definitely worth sitting down on this topic calmly and collecting more data. It often turns out that you gain a completely new view of your project and you may want to make some changes before sending an inquiry to the agency.
What should an advertising brief contain?
The brief actually consists of a list of questions prepared by the agency and the answers given by the potential client. We can distinguish 6 most important elements of each professional marketing brief. The general assumption is that the more information there is in the brief, the better. Here’s what to pay attention to:
Information about your company
The market context is crucial here. What industry and model does the company operate in, who its recipients are, what its products / services look like, who is the competition, in which countries it operates, how many employees it has, how it stands out on the market, why customers use its services, etc.
Information about your products / services
In the previous point, we were moving on a higher level of generality. Time to get down to the details. What products do you offer? How many are there? How do they stand out? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What do customers praise and complain about? What opinions / reviews does your product collect? Has it undergone any changes recently? How do you promote it? What does the sale look like?
Information about customers
You may have heard the concept of persona. This is a fictional character that has the most important characteristics of your customers. It can be said that this is such a model client created for the needs of marketing activities. In the description of the persona, it is good to include as many elements as possible that may be important for the campaign. Personas most often have a profession, a favorite way of spending time, everyday problems and challenges they have to face, a specific income and education, and sometimes even interests. The persona must be as specific as possible, but you cannot overdo it. Determining what such a persona eats for breakfast in most cases does not make much sense.
Information on the planned marketing campaign
What is the project about, what do you want to achieve, what activities you have taken so far, what marketing problems / challenges your company is facing, what the campaign is to be based on, what channels and solutions you expect, etc.
Budget and project duration
The agency needs to know how much money you have for all of this. Completely different tools will be in motion with a budget of $ 10,000, and completely different with a budget of $ 100,000. Accurate information on the subject of the budget allows for better planning of activities and their intensity. The duration of the project is also of great importance. Again, a campaign with a $ 100,000 budget for two months will be different to a campaign that is scheduled to run for a year with that budget.
The purpose of the campaign
It’s just tempting to write “more sales”, because that’s the ultimate goal of any business. But on the other hand, many marketing campaigns have different, or at least more specific, goals. This could be, for example:
– reaching a new group of recipients,
– building an image / recognition in a new communication channel,
– market education about a new solution / product,
– entering the foreign market,
– building and strengthening a specific image that the company wants to achieve.
That sounds a bit different, doesn’t it? Defining a goal is extremely important because it determines how the results will be measured. If your goal is to reach a new group of recipients, the measure of success will be the increased number of orders from people / companies meeting the given criteria.
The expected results and the way they are measured are also important. Firstly, the result must result directly from the set goal, and secondly, it must be adjusted to the expected activities. You cannot measure strictly image-related activities with the use of measures used in performance marketing.
In marketing, the term KPI (key performance indicator) is often used, i.e. key performance indicators. Such a KPI can be, for example, a certain number of new customers over a specified period, or a lower cost of acquiring a new customer.
Communication method and additional guidelines
This is a key issue in the case of large, international companies that have specific guidelines on how their brand and products are to be presented: in what context, in what channels, in what form. If your company has any requirements that are absolutely necessary, regardless of what will be done, be sure to mention it in your brief. These requirements most often relate to the presentation and use of a logo or a specific color, but it can really be any element.
The most common mistakes when creating a brief
Errors in creating a marketing brief happen quite often and usually result from a misunderstanding of the purpose of this document. What should you avoid when working on your brief?
Too little time spent creating a brief: let’s be honest, marketers are busy and often have little time for additional explanations, especially when something is obvious to them. However, spending extra time will translate directly into the quality of the proposal you receive, and then the campaign.
Too many threads / goals: the assumption should be: one brief, one campaign, one goal. If you overwhelm the agency with several different goals (not yet having much in common) and hundreds of ideas about what to do, there is no chance of successful cooperation. You must make the assumption that the brief is supposed to relate to one topic. If you want to achieve several different goals, or run several different campaigns, make several different briefs.
Performing agency work: by writing a brief, you become a patient and your agency becomes a doctor. The patient doesn’t tell the doctor how to treat, right? Likewise, you, as a customer, should not unnecessarily impose specific solutions that may not fit your problem at all. Give your agency scope for action and listen carefully to what it has to say.
Lack of accurate data: if the collection and analysis of marketing data in your company is limp, it may turn out that creating a brief is bordering on a miracle. In this case, go back to point zero and start by organizing your data. Both sides will benefit from this. Only with hard data in hand, you can proceed to constructing a campaign idea.
Too generic: if you answer “women aged 20-60” when asked about the target group, it is a bit too little. Then you need to consider, perhaps together with the agency, how you can specify the information they need to prepare a campaign proposal.