What is the starting point of each project the agency works on? We’ll give you a hint – this is the foundation on which the building of this project will begin. And now the answer – the correctly formulated assignment or the so-called in our circle briff or breff (both are used). The name is eloquent – from the English brief, i.e. I give brief and structured information, followed by detailed discussion and work.
After going through more than 300 briefs over the last 5 years, we thought we’d share with you the 5 key mistakes to avoid when writing a brief, whether it’s for internal purposes or, as it’s most commonly used, as a marketing and marketing communications brief from client to agency:
ERROR 1 – More than one macro goal. Pre-definition of micro-objectives
For any campaign, it is important to be able to identify the key macro objectives at the global level and the micro objectives at the operational level. You will say that this is a serious task and you will be right!
Of course, the definition of these objectives depends very much on the size of the project, its priority and its life cycle. For an agency or marketing team, it is critical to get the direction, speed, timing, resources of the “ship” right. And to follow it, adjusting and building on it slightly as the campaign progresses. Therefore, when you have a properly set global goal, any operational sub-goal would prove correct. It is very important to take advantage of the opportunity that digital marketing provides – the constant monitoring of results at an operational level. In itself, it creates the convenience of tracking whether, through what you’ve achieved so far, you’re succeeding in meeting the campaign’s macro goal.
We warn of a serious challenge here. It has to do with the fact that in the digital world, every detail matters and everything is in the context of the larger marketing goal. It is, therefore, important that it is clearly formulated – so you can decompose it into optimal micro-objectives, very measurable and easier to manage and optimize.
Micro-objectives are specific parameters for the realization of the macro objective. Their determination (CTR, CPC, CPA) as well as their subsequent active management are the responsibility of the agency.
!Important! If you have more than one macro goal, you don’t have a verified path of users through the different elements of your conversion funnel or specific benchmarks (i.e. verified conversion rate benchmarks) – you’ll score multiple goals and each one will stand alone. And to be fair – if you do have the clear funnel and benchmarks – then you can still have one macro goal and the others are a consequence. Examples of such purposes that you may find in your brief are:
- ”achieving awareness among the target audience” and
- “sales of X units of product Y”
Each of them requires a separate approach and message. The more we emphasize one goal, the further we get from achieving the desired results for the other.
Having multiple objectives would lead to mutual “self-eating” – i.e. each has its own specificity, and is optimised differently at the level of micro-objectives and management. In short: having multiple macro goals leads to a truly suboptimal outcome for individual goals. Which, of course, is OK if that’s the approach you would keep. But it’s always better to have a macro goal,
Can you have multiple macro targets without them eating themselves? Yes! If those goals are to validate certain marketing assumptions, make a benchmark of what your costs would be for a given consumer action, etc.
There is no problem during an awareness campaign for users who have started on the sales funnel to be “wowed” by it. But this will not be set as a macro objective of the campaign. It is much better to have a separate digital funnel for those users who wish to move forward on it. It’s necessary whether you’re in a campaign or not, because you risk losing them or having to invest unnecessarily later to “activate” them at a time when they don’t need to perform the action or convert.
More on the topic of macro and micro objectives, including what the internal marketing team should know and how to manage them and further divided information according to whether you are a large or small/medium company, can be found in the article by Joro Malchev in Regal magazine.
ERROR 2 – Target Audience
This is the most often overlooked point in assignments – it is either missing or described in one sentence, almost entirely defined on demographic grounds. As a result, many times different companies from different sectors have the same target defined, which leads to the following two situations:
More time needed to define the right target together with the client.
Suboptimal campaign results due to engagement and costs for incompletely formulated target consumers.
In order to plan a campaign properly, it is good to know who the potential target groups are so that processes and communication can be managed even better at an operational level. As much as defining this point is the agency’s task, clients have a serious responsibility in it. Thanks to this, they’ll understand even better at what moments marketing works and when it doesn’t, in particular how to plan their content so that it’s relevant to the specific stages of the funnel different targets are on. We call it astionable insight – i.e. specific “insight” on the basis of which specific actions can be planned. Otherwise, as we pointed out, there will in practice be additional conversations, analyses or microtests to validate the target audiences.
The main areas that are important for the target audience (besides the “standard” age, gender, social and economic status, location) are:
- Other brands they like
- Conversation topics that are important to them
- Micromoments, i.e. specific questions that they ask and that we answer by winning these micromoments
- History of previous communication with this target audience and its results
The last point is extremely important – its analysis saves time and resources, but most of all it is related to the fact that the client and the agency have the most in-depth information about which marketing messages, which type of content and at which place on the consumer path work for the respective brand and target consumers.
Of course, when it comes to a new product or service, or one for which there is no qualitative prior data, this information is often not available. In this case, it is right to launch the campaign with a mini-phase to validate the right audiences and the messages that would work for them.
ERROR 3 – Omitting information about the company’s business processes for conversion and sales
Already in the brief, it is good to go into detail about how the business is structured, which are the business lines to be developed, and how each is “boosting” the business through marketing techniques.
Every marketing agency should be able to speak on behalf of their clients. It needs to plan the right moments in its communication plan to present different key points of the brand’s value proposition to potential customers. And every digital action, whether it’s a text message on a banner or an engaging Facebook post, must clearly and accurately represent the brand’s business processes. The more specific the first interaction between the consumer and the brand content – about what value they would receive and how – the further down the funnel it would go.
ERROR 4 – Lack of or “over-assurance” in terms of budget and timing
Often clients are reluctant to share what the budget is for a specific campaign or time period. For the agency, this in itself means it is “shooting in the dark”. The risk of mistakes or of “over-insurance” (allocating a smaller or larger budget) for both sides to the level of a suboptimal campaign is quite high. This is because there are different approaches to digital marketing – each of which brings its own results, resource requirements and finances. We’ll give you an example – you’re in a shop and you want to buy a laptop. If you don’t restrict a sales consultant to your available budget, chances are they will offer you one that is beyond your means. Or vice versa – get a laptop for much less money, but with much less capability.
We’ll put it to you this way – digital marketing is a highly consultative service where buyer and seller input is equally important. If the agency does its job well, it will flood you with questions, as a good sales consultant would.
Given a budget framework, the agency should be able to give the most effective allocation of the budget line and defend it. Of course, this is also strictly linked to the trust the client can afford to have in the agency. Often in this case, NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) documents are also signed to strengthen the trust part. 🙂
ERROR 5 – Failure to share or exaggerate previous experience and results to date
After all, every company, brand, campaign, content and channel has its specifics. They are directly tied to the business model, audience and history of a company, brand or product/service to date. Digital marketing is powerful and different because of the possible types of interaction with users (clicking on a banner, watching a video, commenting on a post, filling out a form) and at the same time because of the automation it allows. Because of this, it is important that the agency is aware of previous challenges in communicating with potential and current consumers, what the results have been for the business, whether there have been successful and/or unsuccessful campaigns, and how the company has determined their success or failure.
Naturally, each agency does its own research, but based on publicly available information. This doesn’t always get to how consumers have interacted with the brand and the business impact for the company. This information is key to properly considering a campaign. The client should be able to provide a good enough foundation on which to build the subsequent communication strategy.
Imagine going into an exam that has been running for 5 years but without looking at what the previous 4 have been. The effectiveness of this action will be the same as the effectiveness of a campaign where statistics from operational targets set in previous years and their subsequent mapping to the company’s macro objectives are not analysed.
If you are interested in this topic, you can view our brief format (marketing assignments) by downloading it from this link.
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