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Data Dive

Data dive: Are marketing briefs broken?

What’s the news?

Creative marketing briefs are broken. Despite both creative agencies and in-house marketers understanding the importance of a good brief, a gulf has opened between the two sides.

According to new research, creative agencies are finding the briefs supplied to them ever more unhelpful, going as far as to describe them as “unfocused”, “unclear” and even “shoddy”.

There is a lack of clear objectives, strategy and focus — and it’s leading to wasted time, wasted money and demotivated agency teams.

Who’s behind it?

The BetterBriefs project, a great initiative from Matt Davies and Pieter-Paul von Weiler who are striving to “reduce the amount of money, time and talent wasted on poor briefs”.

Give me figures…

In-house marketers and agencies agree that it’s difficult to produce good creative work without a good marketing brief.

Three-quarters (75%) of agencies think the quality of their recent briefs wasn’t good enough

Only 5% of agencies think briefs provide clear, strategic direction.

Creative agencies are twice as energised to work on briefs that provide clear, strategic direction.

60% of marketers admit to using the creative process to clarify the strategy.

What should I take away from this?

The big point is that last one. The majority of marketers admit to using the creative process to clarify the strategy. That’s a real concern.

The whole point of a brief is to provide strategic direction to lead the creative. It’s about taking the time to really think about what your business wants to achieve from this activity. And that doesn’t just mean traffic, eyeballs or coverage, it means the real things that will matter to your customers, your sales team, your board members and your business’ bottom line.

Great briefs are hard work and they should take time and consideration. Be clear on what you’re trying to achieve and why, but don’t spill over into tactics, attempting to do the creative agency’s job for them.

But it’s not all on in-house marketers to improve their briefs. Agencies also need to be bold enough to give a steer, flag what’s missing, and interrogate the brief (before the creative work is started).

Where do I go next?

If you’re looking to write a hard-hitting brief for a PR agency, I’d highly recommend reading this guide to briefing an agency from Wildfire’s Sanjay Dove.

Or to find out more about the BetterBriefs project, download the full report: The BetterBriefs Project – Topline global report.

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Wildfire Labs explores intelligence, insights and trends from the world of tech marketing and PR. Articles and content by Alex Warren, Tim Richardson, Rebecca Quin and Paula Fifield. If you'd like to learn more about any of our trends or our team, contact