At the risk of sounding like a cracked record, or just a pain in the backside, in order for a marketing agency to succeed – and in particular, one that prides itself in its creative output – it needs to make a concerted effort to improve the quality of briefing.
Good briefs are essential to delivering good work. But in the rush to get things done, it’s all too tempting to cut corners – and this inevitably leads to the wrong solutions, mistakes, wasted time and unhappy clients.
Below, I have listed five fundamental briefing ‘rules’ that should be followed at all times. We implement these at Fox Agency:
- Think through the job, and make sure you have all the relevant information – including a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve and why.
- Always provide an accurate, comprehensive written brief (ideally your agency has shared briefing templates with variations for set types of creative tasks). This is not a box ticking exercise, it’s an opportunity to organise your thoughts and ensure everyone has an accurate and shared understanding of what’s required.
- But also, try to be concise and, literally, as brief as possible. It’s always tempting to include every possible piece of information ‘just in case’. But clarity and direction are the main aims.
- Aim to provide background and context. What are we trying to achieve and why? Remember, the person creating the brief is steeped in knowledge about the client’s motives, challenges, plans, objectives, likes, dislikes, triumphs, disasters, new products, business strategy, personal goals, brand guidelines, irrational preferences, and all the rest. Whereas the creative team probably knows much less about it. So you need to set the scene and tell the story.
- It’s best to deliver a brief in person. Not just posted on Basecamp, an email or whichever project management platform you use. Explain the background, talk it through, answer questions, confirm and agree the ‘plan’.
If you provide good briefs, and you follow the rules, the time taken at the formative stages will make the task for the digital marketing team, design studio or public relations taskforce that much clearer and easier, resulting in high-quality output.
Also be aware that the teams have the licence to push back when they feel that briefs aren’t adequate (and definitely if briefs don’t exist at all.) i.e. they may not start a job until a good brief is provided. This could mean that you end up missing your studio slot, or you waste time re-doing your social media brief.
While a brief can be a challenge to perfect, if you take the time to lock-down the process, the agency as a whole will save time and ultimately, when agencies are billed by the hour or day, that saves money.
When it comes to Insight, Strategy and Brand, think Fox Agency.