2008. okt. 23.

The Client Brief

A brief is the most important piece of information issued by a client to an agency. It’s from the brief that everything else flows. Therefore it’s essential that every effort be taken to prepare the best possible documentation of what is required.

It’s in the nature of creative thinkers that giving them the tightest of parameters will often stimulate the most inventive of responses – and 79% of clients and agencies agreed that: “It is difficult to produce good creative work without a good brief”.

The client brief can be considered the platform for a communications campaign. The better a company’s corporate or brand position is defined and the more thoughtfully its key business issues are described, the more likely it is that strategic and creative thinkers in agencies will be able to apply their specialist skills to produce great solutions.
“The whole idea is to stimulate the creative imagination, not to restrict it. Ultimately you are buying creative ideas. Procurement people can sometimes write briefs as though they were buying copper piping or paperclips. But selling is an art. It’s more like briefing an architect. We need agencies to feel inspired so they can do their best work.” (‘BRIEFING’ RESEARCH 2002: AGENCY SAMPLE)
The biggest waste of agency resources is to put them through the process of developing a solution repeatedly without concrete direction. It wears on relationships and is costly in wasted staff time (on both sides).
“We need agencies to get more work right first time. That saves time and money. A proper written brief makes the process more efficient – that’s good for clients and good for agencies.” (‘BRIEFING’ RESEARCH 2002: CLIENT SAMPLE)
In our research 99% of agencies and 98% of clients agreed that: “Sloppy briefing and moving goal posts wastes both time and money”. A clear written brief can minimise this wastefulness and maximise the chances of a ‘right first time’ agency response to the client.
“The written brief instils a discipline on my team and the agency to be very clear about what the objectives and expected outcomes are.” (‘BRIEFING’ RESEARCH 2002: CLIENT SAMPLE)
Both clients and agencies say that ‘time pressures’ are the main reason for inadequate client briefs. But in fact not writing a brief to save time is a false economy, as more often than not it leads to re-working. Worryingly, 75% of agencies and 55% of clients agreed that: “The briefs that we work on are often changed once the project has started”.

Worse, 79% of agencies reported that: “Clients often use the creative process to clarify their strategy”, and even 35% of clients agreed with this. It’s like using your first set of curtains merely to define how big your windows are!

One of the criticisms that marketing people face from their colleagues in finance and in the boardroom in general is that they lack accountability for the very significant sums of money they spend. The caricature of the flash and superficial marketing executive will only be dispelled by a more professional approach. Ensuring that briefs are written for every project from every agency is an essential place to start.

Over 90% of agencies and 84% of clients agree that: “Payment by results is impossible without fully agreed business objectives”. Given the increasing prevalence of a PBR component in so many remuneration agreements, this is another compelling reason for a proper written brief.

Clearly the scale of the project will dictate the depth and complexity of your brief – one for a major new brand launch will obviously be much more detailed than one for a small tactical advertisement within an existing campaign.

But, whatever the task, a written brief that includes ‘objectives’ and ‘success criteria’ is the foundation stone for accountability and demonstration of the effectiveness of advertising, media, PR, direct marketing, sales promotion and indeed all forms of commercial communications. And without the ability to demonstrate our effectiveness, none of us will receive the remuneration that we deserve.

Quick link: 3 principles of a Good Brief
Quick link: An Interactive Guide to Writing a Brief for Communications Agencies

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