Where’s the Brief?

Clients often ask me to work on a specific campaign via phone call, email or a hallway conversation. We scope out a program, get cost approval and deliver solutions that we think are on point. But, alas, that’s not always the case. “How does this happen?” you might ask. Well, it can occur when you don’t have a good program brief, or you don’t have a brief at all.

Here are steps to ensuring your agency has what’s needed to meet your expectations the first time. It’s as simple as a good brief—a brief that any team can pick up and execute against to provide the right solutions.

  1. Provide the relevant Background Information – This should include information on the company/product/service, results of previous campaigns, competitive situation and other marketing initiatives, as well as features/benefits that differentiate the product.
  2. Indicate what the Assignment is – If this is a strategic assignment, specify the parameters for campaign development. If you know the tactics, explain what needs to be created and what components will be included. List all versions and how they differ, as well as which media will be used (e.g., display ads, direct mail, alt media, email, integrated campaign, microsite, mobile, search, focus group, research, etc.)
  3. List the Objectives you’d like to achieve with this assignment – For example, build awareness, generate leads, sell more products, engender loyalty, drive traffic, change opinion, deepen the relationship with their customers or garner buying behavior stats. Also include how results will be measured.
  4. Specify the Target Audience – Who are we talking to and what is their existing relationship to the company or product? Describe the target with detailed demographic and psychographic information. Be sure to include any research, owned data sources and versioning requirements.
  5. Include a desired Single Net Impression – Isolate the single most compelling reason for the target to respond. This should be the benefit with the most emotional appeal, not a feature. Here’s an easy way to come up with a statement: I (target audience) am going to (whatever we want the target to do as result of this communication) because (the most compelling reason to do it).
  6. Provide a list of the Reasons to Believe/Support Points for why your prospect should believe you and take action. Provide as many reasons as you can, in order of importance.
  7. Describe Offers & Calls to Action – Spell out the offer by target segment and detail specifically what we want them to do, when we want them to do it and how we want them to reach us (e.g., phone, email, mail, web, QR code, etc.).
  8. Detail the Barriers to Response – Why might the target choose not to respond to the campaign? Is there a lot of competition? Is our offer flawed? Need to provide details on how we might overcome these barriers using offers, testimonials, third-party endorsements, etc.
  9. Outline specific Mandatory Execution Elements – These include:
    1. Tone and Manner/Style that is most appropriate for the brand, product, audience, etc.
    2. Logo usage, brand guidelines, photo usage and legal requirements
    3. Component production specifications and delivery requirements

10. Define Tracking and Reporting requirements – Who will be doing this and what analytic requirements are there? In addition, specify unique tracking codes, phone numbers, URLs, etc.

11. Include Budget and Key Cost Metrics – Always give a budget or a range for the agency to work with. If budget is dependent on other key metrics, such as cost per lead or conversion rate, then include those metrics as well.

12. Provide your desired Schedule – Let the agency know when you need to be in market or when you need the leads in the system, as well as any specific approval rounds (Legal, Stakeholder, etc.). This will allow the agency to back out an ideal timeline to get the work done.

13. Get it Approved – If you are the final decision maker, make sure the agency knows this is an approved brief. If others need to review and approve, make sure you get those approvals to ensure the scope doesn’t change.

By following these steps when writing a brief, you will have an easier time working with your agency, launching programs and getting stellar work delivered on target the first time around.

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