Have you ever experienced a tense client/agency relationship? This is a safe space, so it’s okay, to be honest, we totally understand; as the client, you may feel like you’re not being heard or just simply not getting what you need from the agency. And meanwhile, at the agency, we are pulling our hair trying to decode cryptic messages to meet and exceed your expectations.
Well, would you believe that 9 out of 10 times, this miscommunication and frustration comes from one single source: THE BRIEF. That’s right, it all starts with the one document that rules them all. So, let’s take a quick look at what turns a good brief into a great brief, and level up your briefing game!
What is a Brief?
A brief is the crux of any project, no matter how big or how small, and it is the responsibility of both the client and the agency equally to ensure it’s on point. A good brief includes all critical information surrounding a project, but a great brief includes total stakeholder contribution and is created through a strong client/agency partnership.
From a tactical point of view, a brief should be precisely that brief. It should focus on providing your agency with clear, precise, and complete information about your project so they understand your vision, expectations, and what they should bring back to you. Without clear-cut information, a brief can be left open to interpretation and may lead to your agency missing the mark.
We know it can be super easy to get carried away when writing a brief and trying to get everything that’s in your head onto paper. But keep in mind that too much information can fog the process and blur your purpose and objectives. So, staying honed in on relevance and context is far more important than loads of stats and data.
5 Tips for writing an effective brief
Get It All Down
Writing a brief should be step one of any project. Agency’s thrive on briefs and the best briefs you can provide are written. Yes, this seems simple and a wee bit obvious, but it is an important activity for both you and your agency.
Writing a brief will focus your team’s thinking specifically on outcomes, achievements, and KPI’s and provides your agency with the opportunity to fully grasp your project or follow up with a meeting to ask questions and fill in any missing gaps.
Don’t underestimate the power of who, what, where, when, and how. This is a great place to start when creating your brief and will generate pertinent conversations to get you thinking about your project holistically.
Remember, your agency likely has little to no knowledge of your business, product, or service. So when writing your brief, take the time to introduce your organization, your target audience, and your brand.
Clearly define your objectives and what you are aiming to achieve within the project. Use tangible business objectives, KPI’s and goals, making sure your objectives are focused and measurable. If you can’t clearly define what success looks like for your project, it will be difficult to measure your agency’s success in meeting those objectives.
Be Crystal Clear
Briefs are named briefs because they are meant to be short and sweet. But don’t skip the good stuff. Make a solid summary of your project and the requirements but avoid using vague language that could leave your agency guessing about what it is you’re trying to achieve. Add detail and quantify. So “we want to grow brand awareness” becomes “we want to increase website traffic by 20%”.
Provide a Budget
Being upfront and transparent about how much you have to spend at the start of the project is extremely important. Coming up with a creative campaign that includes all the bells and whistles that don’t suit your budget isn’t fun for anyone. Even providing an estimate or ballpark figure that will guide your agency’s thought process will be beneficial.
Including definitive objectives and success criteria will support accountability and help create the ability to show your spending effectiveness at the end of the campaign.
Give a Deadline
Be specific about timeframes and provide your agency with as much notice as possible. Keep in mind, it’s likely they will have other projects on the go, and they will need time to adequately research, source and quote your project with partners, so giving as much advance notice as possible will assist in getting the best work back from the agency.
Collaborate for the Win
The next steps to get your project into production should be fully collaborative and have open and honest client/agency communication. The collaboration will be the ultimate key to success.
Step 1 – The agency should supply an initial concept presentation, including a project schedule outlining key milestones
Step 2 – Review & Replay! Digest and review the concept thoroughly with all relevant stakeholders in your organization. Don’t be shy to ask your agency for a second or even third concept presentation if you are not fully excited by the initial ideas. If they are completely off target, you may need to go back and revisit the brief to ensure it is airtight and the agency has all the necessary information.
Step 3 – Let’s do this! Select and approve a creative concept and agree on the final budget, schedule, and responsibilities. Creating a great brief will not only demonstrate that you’re enthusiastic about your project, but it also allows an agency the opportunity to become ambassadors for your brand – and to blow your mind with their creative expertise. Nothing lights up creative people more than creating fantastic work. So when you trust the process and put a great brief in your agency hands, you are lighting the fire, and you will push your brand forward faster than you ever imagined!
To make it easier for you we have prepared a briefing template, it will give you all the information we need so you can brief us.