Those are phrases I have heard a lot over the years. Often (whisper it) from the agency team, berating a client contact amongst themselves.
But agencies have a big part to play in the quality of briefing. People in glass houses and all that. Over the last few years I have seen some great briefs from clients that really helped an agency hit the mark. And I have seen some excellent briefs written (for themselves) by agencies, where the client couldn't articulate what they really wanted. But in amongst that have been some very lame briefs, on both sides, so I wanted to tackle that lack of consistency in the latest Agency Growth guide.
The guide was primarily written with agency account handlers in mind, they are generally the guys who brief in the specialist teams in the agency. They are also usually the people who brief any external specialist partners. And of course they work with (or should be working with) clients to pull a really effective brief together.
There are of course elements to briefs that are specific to particular types of campaigns or projects:website build, PPC campaign, video asset creative and production etc. Each will have specifics that need to be captured in the brief, around technology, techniques used and terminology. But there are common elements and ‘behaviours’ to all that I talk about in the guide, that make for an effective brief.
Measuring and reporting on client campaigns
This guide will be useful to client-side marketers. It will help them understand how their agencies could be working with them to add value to campaign reporting, by focusing on specific metrics by channel using the RACE framework to set KPIs. We also cover recommended tools for agency reporting to their clients.
Access the Facebook Advertising Guide
The guide came about from my own experience seeing both agency and client teams frustrated by poor briefing but this isn’t my observation alone: for example, The Institute of Practitioners In Advertising (IPA UK) and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) ran a ‘Good Brief Week’ back in 2015 to focus on the subject of great (or not!) briefing.
The Association of National Advertisers (ANA - USA) published a whitepaper based on better creative briefs. They detailed what they saw as the benefits of working hard at creating a great brief:
“.. getting the [creative] brief right will result in better work, less churn in the creative process, an improved client/agency relationship, and better business results.”
Writing a great brief results in great work. That’s the first thing many people would think of as a benefit of investing time in crafting a great brief. But as the ANA andGavin Llewelyn (echoing the IPA and writing for Smart Insights) say, there are other great reasons to work at getting the brief spot-on:
Clear briefing saves time and money.
Better briefs make for fairer remuneration.
I look in the guide at a checklist for better written, more effective briefs. The first thing to say is that as well as the ‘functional’ sections of a brief to be completed, the writer (be that agency or client) should also ‘paint a picture’ up front.
To quote Gavin again: “To help inspire the agency (or agencies if this is a joint agency briefing), spend some time setting the scene, perhaps with some interesting consumer stories or a similar situation from a different industry or sector to trigger interest and understanding.”
The areas to attend to in the checklist are more detailed in the guide and cover:
As well as this overarching briefing structure, I talk in the guide about ‘ideal behaviours’ that should support the brief, to aid the success of your creative or technical response. The guide gives more detail but the theme here is one of allowing time for a brief to be created and ‘critiqued’ before the final version is published. And of involving more than one person (client and / or agency side) in the process. That team approach should be employed at a face-to-face briefing session and then on then at the project kick-off itself.
Finally, I reference a couple of sources for great brief templates within thin the guide but I have expanded on that in this post. There are quite a few (free) briefing templates available on the web, looking at different project types. Here are a few for you to investigate: