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How to brief: what elements are absolutely necessary?

How to brief

When we supply our briefing template as part of a new job, what we get back is often lacking in detail, or people haven’t completed it in a way that makes sense. Here’s a quick guide to what you need to include every time your marketing agency asks for a brief.

What are the campaign objectives? 

A typical answer we get to this question is, “To run a campaign”. That’s not the point here. We need to understand what you want the campaign to achieve. What are the drivers for the program? What purpose does it fill? Is it part of a bigger strategy for your company? That’s the important bit.

Who is in your target audience?

This is always an interesting question that receives some really generic answers. For example we often hear that our clients want to target groups like traditional end users, SMBs and decision makers.

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who doesn’t know anything much about your business. What do they need to know? Your definition of an SMB might not be the same as your writer’s, so be specific. And when it comes to defining your audience types, the more information the better.

What are your customers’ pain points?

This shouldn’t be a one line answer (in most cases). It’s an overview of what your customers are looking for and why they need it. Don’t just fill out what you think off the top of your head – talk to the sales team to get some first hand customer insight into their situation before answering.

What are your main messages?

Many clients skimp on details in this section, or they provide a list of bullet points from a previous campaign. But this is actually the most important part of all your marketing. Your overarching messages should be consistent within a campaign and link back to the value you offer to prospects. It is worth sharing other promotions and content pieces for reference, as we don’t want to rehash something that’s already been used.

Who are your competitors?

It’s unlikely that there are many other companies who offer exactly the same mix of products and services you do, but chances are there are a few who compete in the same general space. Even if those companies are not direct competitors, it will help your agency to review their messaging and positioning in the market in order to help you stand out.

What are your key differentiators?

This isn’t just about identifying a solution feature that your competitors don’t offer. Differentiators might also be less tangible – consider your business ethos, your approach to customer service or your commitment to continual development. A feature comparison happens at a much later stage in the buying cycle so don’t overload your top-of-funnel content with that kind of messaging.

What’s the call to action? 

The call to action must always offer value to the customer. But in addition to that, make sure you’ve thought about where you are directing prospects to. Do you need a dedicated campaign landing page to help you easily track results? Which additional content pieces can you promote after sign up to keep the conversation going? Prospects should be nurtured to maintain engagement with your brand.

Anything else?

While this is a long list of requirements, it’s really the bare minimum you need to include in any brief. If your agency provides you with a much more detailed briefing document, it’s worth taking the time to complete it. You’ll get a more satisfactory piece of content in return and there should be fewer rounds of edits – keeping everyone happy.

We are here to help.  Whether you have been  thinking about reusing existing content or creating new, why not try our free marketing assessment to identify how we can help you further.

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About the Author: Diana Tucker

Diana Tucker

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