Here’s how to fix it.
90 per cent of marketers fail to brief agencies effectively, and their failures begin with a total lack of strategy.
The headline findings of the Better Briefs Project and its research spanning 1,700 marketers and agencies make for grim reading, with a third of ad budgets being wasted as a result of bad briefs.
Unless things improve, marketer tenures – and standing within boardrooms – will continue to decline. But there’s a fix.
1. Back to Basics
The reason we write briefs is to direct creative thinking and to inspire it. So if a marketing brief doesn't direct, everything else goes to shit.
Six in ten (!) marketers are using creative agencies and the pitch process to deliver their strategy.
A clear brief can only be informed by clear strategy. Which means marketers need to come up with one and clearly communicate it, not leave it to agencies to decipher – or create.
2. Nail strategy, speak business, not marketing
Even where strategic direction may be present, it’s too often obscured by marketing jargon. There’s a tendency toward generic terminology, buzzwords and trends of the moment.
In some situations, the entire business might have a poor strategy. So the CMO can’t translate that into a marketing strategy. We need to welcome business language into our briefs, because from a commercial perspective, we need to know what's going on.
For instance, let's not talk about brand halo effect; instead let’s talk about margin protection. Let's not talk about brand equity; instead let’s talk about investing in the reputation of a company and growing the trust of customers. Let’s not talk about brand preference – maybe it's part of the mix – instead let’s talk about risk reduction in the long term.
3. Agencies are screaming for objectives
The worst briefs anecdotally contain only attitudinal objectives: ’Grow my awareness by 10 per cent’. Okay, what's the bigger picture here? What are you trying to achieve? And why?
A good brief should have both hard objectives – the outcomes the business wants, such as volume or value growth; and soft objectives – the attitude or behaviour shifts required to drive those business outcomes.
Once we get the “linked” or “laddered” objectives right, then it's much clearer to see the path forward for creativity in helping to solve that problem.
Why is this even happening?
Part of the problem, the report suggests, is too many corporate cooks throwing random ingredients into the pot.
Briefs are re-written by internal committee, get filled with jargon, nonsense and irrelevance, plus audiences, targets and topics are added in order to keep everyone feeling like their area of work is valid.
Half of marketers admit that the right people are not signing off on briefs so that’s a big reason why we’re not getting the right objectives.
So what’s the fix?
Clarity begins internally. Strategy requires sacrifice. The best briefs are arrived at by having the hard debates and conversations about what to do and more importantly, what not to do.
Our Marketing OS Accelerator can help you build an agenda for marketing the organisation can get behind so you get the most out of your agencies and investments.
Get in touch for details.