Back to basics: 3 tips to improving your marketing brief

The current environment has been very challenging for a lot of businesses and owners, forcing them to rethink how they operate and market themselves in completely new circumstances. The silver lining – starting from the ground up has provided the perfect opportunity to reevaluate and improve upon a lot of the foundational elements that have gone into the development of existing marketing strategies. 
The marketing brief is the bread and butter of any lead, manager or strategist and is a powerful tool to guide an agency, freelancer or internal working groups. It contains key information (background, objectives, audience, insights, timelines, budgets, other mandatories, etc.) and provides a succinct document needed to effectively approach a marketing challenge. 
While I can’t tell you how to write the perfect brief, here’s three ways you can improve upon your marketing brief and strategies. 

1. Narrow your audience.

A target market is important in a brief and clearly illustrates who you have the biggest opportunity with, who is most likely to engage with your marketing efforts and ultimately determine its success. But it’s important to focus and narrow your target market to ensure your marketing efforts are working as effectively as possible. 
Businesses are placing a huge emphasis on ROI and efficiencies–while a huge potential market is great in theory, trying to achieve that impossible task of reaching the all-too-common audience of “everyone” can be a huge waste of marketing dollars. A large proportion of that wider audience may not even be interested or show any intent to engage with your marketing or what you are promoting. Focusing your efforts on a tighter, primary audience can reap better rewards and be budget-conscious too.  

A broad audience can be a reality, especially for businesses with a wide range of offerings, but remember that everyone in your audience doesn’t think and behave exactly the same. Defining and segmenting multiple audiences is a better approach, but make sure you prioritize who you want to engage withit’ll make your job and your agency’s a little bit easier to doNeed different strategies for different audiences? Write multiple briefs to speak to each of them more effectively.

the all-too-common audience of “everyone” can be a huge waste of marketing dollars.


Write with your reader in mind.

Remember that a person or team will need to read your brief to understand what you want them to know, understand and do. They are your real audience. A great brief should be written for them and should include content they will find valuable to knowIt shouldn’t just be a brain dump of background info, research and mandatoriesit’s probably going to, but that won’t inspire your reader at the end of the day.  

Engage with your teams and make it your goal to convince them that the problem at hand is something they want to invest themselves in. Inspire them–immerse them in the mindset of your target market and demonstrate key product features, functional benefits and emotional benefits. Leverage a brand’s purpose where you can and bring it into the brief. Win your team over. Then give them the tools and resources to get the job done.


Give them an insight.

Arguably the hardest thing to write in a brief, the insight is probably one of the main things your team will take away from it. During a strategy mega-class I attended last year world-renowned strategist, Mark Pollard, defined it perfectly, “Insights give better words to hunches and new words to things we have never contemplated.” It’s something novel and noteworthy. A thought that seems obvious. But then your reader thinks that's so true and haven’t heard it like that before.” It can provide that lightbulb moment for creatives or spark an innovative communications strategy that developed because they saw the challenge from a different angle. 

“Insights give better words to hunches and new words to things we have never contemplated.” - Mark Pollard


Insights can come from many different places–competitive research, audience motivations, sales and website data–you name it. Here’s a few things I learned from the mega-class to try as you start to develop an insight: 

  • They can develop as a beautiful irony. 
    • Example: COVID-19 has brought together so many people forced to physically and socially distance. 
  • Start stupid or start offensive, then try to make sense or find the truth in it. 
    • Example: I yell at myself for not being good enough but I could use that energy to improve myself. 
  • People believe X, but Y is actually true. 
    • Example: Millennials often adhere to Alberta’s low-risk drinking guidelines, but will still participate in binge drinking activities when the occasion calls for it.
Briefs take time to create, but they get everyone involved, to clarify objectives and eliminate confusion. It lays the framework for marketing initiatives. It's important that marketing professionals, strategists and creatives have the right knowledge to carry out campaigns for public relations, communications, marketing websites, e-commerce, advertising and more. A good brief can be the difference between a successful or failed campaign.


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We’re currently offering free advice to help you navigate marketing, advertising, and communications in these uncharted waters. If you’re interested in sending us a note about your situation, we would be happy to set up a quick call with one of our team mates who might be able to answer your questions. Click below for more details.

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