The benefits of tight briefs…

by Emma Fisher – May 26, 2022

It’s part of our folklore at Wardour that an Account Director once told a content marketing client he liked ‘tight, transparent briefs’.

As the coffee was mopped off the table, it emerged that this was not a prompt for some fetishist fun, rather a plea to work together to really pin down a plan for the campaign that both agency and client were agreed on.

Briefing is such a critical part of any brand or content marketing project and seldom is the real brief the one that was first set out in the proposal, pitch or tender. Plans evolve and a good brief ensures any evolution is baked into the thinking correctly.

Below are our 10 key tips for clients who want to get the most out of briefing their agencies.

1. Don’t feel you have to have all the answers. Expect your agency to work collaboratively with you to finesse your brief, and at the end of the process, to set out a clear scope of work for you to approve. This limits the chances of unexpected surprises later on.

2. When working on the brief, start with the overall objectives: be clear about what you are trying to achieve, including the purpose and outcome of the campaign you are embarking upon. Is it about general brand awareness? Is there a specific action you want people to take or a user journey you want them to follow? What are the commercial aspects?

3. When thinking about that purpose, try to get the buy-in of any senior stakeholders who might have an impact on the process later. We find their take can often be crucially different, so having their opinion on the brief early on, save hassles down the line.

4. If clarity around the objectives is vital so is giving your agency any insight (such as research or data) that might guide content, creative and channels for the campaign. There is no point wasting your time, money and patience having your agency re-invent the wheel.

5. With or without the benefit of data be clear with your agency who you see the audience to be – or what work is needed to work out who the audience is. Such a basic point, but you’d be surprised how often it gets ‘assumed’ as understood.

6. Think also about how your planned campaign will work with your brand. This is more than just thinking about the design and creative guidelines that need to be considered. It is about how you want the campaign to enhance the brand. As part of this, consider the tone of the campaign: how do you want this to come across? What’s the tone of voice? Is it playful, serious, a hard-hitting message or a fun campaign idea? Make sure you and the agency are on the same page, or at least that you know where the debate creatively might go.

7. And before you get too lost in the creative aspects remember that a campaign is also a product, and products require logistical planning to deliver.

8.  Be clear about timeframes: what needs to happen and by when? When will key stakeholders expect progress and delivery? What are the non-negotiable deadlines and key milestones?

9. And in reaching these milestones how do you want the process run? How do you expect to interact with the agency? Which project management tools do you want to work with? What does the agency recommend? What’s the cadence of meetings you want to ensure knowledge is shared effortlessly and everyone feels like one team?  

10. Finally, once you are clear on all the above, how are you going to know you have actually delivered? All too often metrics are treated almost as an after-thought, but without them you only have anecdote to secure ongoing support for your ideas. Work out in the briefing process how you are going to measure success.

Tight, transparent briefs aside, only a masochist (agency or client-side) embarks on a campaign without a clear plan to work to. 

Published May 26, 2022

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