The art of the brief: getting the most out of your marketing agency

SC_AprilBlog_2-18 22 May, 2018

So you’ve found the perfect marketing agency to work with. Fabulous! That’s the hard part. Now to establish some clear boundaries and processes for working together.

You must already have a connection to have agreed to team up in the first place. But no matter how good your rapport, no agency will ever just be able to bring to life what’s in your head without you telling them explicitly.

An essential element of this is nailing the briefing process. If the marketing agency brief is good, the work will be too. No matter what the project, each brief must be – above all – clear about what the project a) is and b) is trying to achieve. Briefing well is how you end being presented with beautiful creative that meets/exceeds your expectations.

Producing a good marketing agency brief is an underrated art form. Brilliant marketing and design work stems as much from the effectiveness of the brief as much as it does from the skills and experience of the team you’ve engaged.

If a marketing agency brief is vague and wishy-washy with instructions like ‘Copy this, but better’, it is unlikely to produce great work. Clarity and context is key.


Good marketing agency briefs save clients money

It’s entirely worth your while to spend time getting the marketing agency brief right. This is because it leads to better work AND it saves you money (and untold frustration) in the long run. How? Because you won’t have to pay your agency extra for endless rounds of revisions.

So what makes a good marketing agency brief and how can you replicate it?


Essential elements of any marketing agency brief:

1. Description
What is the project?

2. Background
Provides context. Why this project? Why now?

3. Target market
Describe the audience in as much detail as possible

4. Objective
What are you hoping to achieve from this project?

5. Messaging
Is this locked in or does your agency need to develop it?

6. Key benefits for audience
Why would someone purchase this product or sign up for this service?

7. Realistic timeframes

8. Tone of voice
Adjectives for how you want people to feel

marketing agency brief

Best case scenario: a creative brief is a document created through initial meetings, interviews, readings and discussions between a client and designer before any work begins. Throughout the project, the creative brief continues to in form and guide the work. Here’s where you’ll find the industry best practice guide.

It’s important to understand who’s at the table. For some people, the idea of sitting down and verbally briefing only to then write up a written brief feels like double-handling.

For others, only a series of discussions and meetings before having everything written up in detail and signed off will do.

In our experience, the best marketing agency briefs are a combination of initial meetings, interviews and signed off documents confirming that everyone ‘gets it’ and knows what is expected of them. Giving all stakeholders the opportunity to revise and ask questions is essential. Once everyone knows what’s expected of them, the great work can begin.

Sketch Corp.