How To Write A Marketing Brief

As a marketing manager, one of the key responsibilities you have in running marketing campaigns is to make sure that everyone is on the same page. This document aims to bring everything that you need for a campaign together, and allows the various parties - creative, media, operations, customer service - to prepare and propose executions for you all to align.

JOSH DUGGANby Josh Duggan 10 May, 2020

What’s a marketing brief and why should I write one?

As a marketing manager, one of the key responsibilities you have in running marketing campaigns is to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Campaigns that have greater levels of coherence across channels and creative execution perform better and are ultimately more profitable. Additionally, being able to track your goals and outcomes over time allows you to optimise and improve the work of all of your team and external resources.

A great tool for managing this is the marketing brief. This is a document that brings everything that you need for a campaign together and allows the various parties - creative, media, operations, customer service - to prepare and propose executions for you to align. A brief is very simple - it sets out the goals, KPIs, budget and scope of a project or campaign, as well as any relevant supporting data. It does not include guidance or suggestions on what the execution should be - the teams or people tasked with this will be able to deliver better solutions than the person tasked with overseeing it.

It’s also the document that should make up the basis of your campaign review and wrap up. By having clearly stated goals and KPIs you are easily able to assess success or failure. Too much time is taken up in wrap ups discussing whether or not a project has been a success - having the terms clearly set out beforehand eliminates this and allows you to focus on which particular elements caused performance, good or bad.

Similar to setting up a request for proposal document, writing a good, concise brief is a really important skill for a marketing manager that will make your life easier and help you a lot. It may feel like an hour in which you can get on with doing more practical things, but as you get into the habit it’s a tool that you will use for all sorts of things, be it marketing campaigns, ecommerce prioritisation, A/B testing, even hiring.

What goes into a marketing brief?

Campaign name

Something memorable and descriptive so you know what you’re referring to

Campaign Purpose

A description of what the goals of the campaign are. These should be as specific as possible and kept to a minimum - campaigns that have multiple competing goals can become unfocussed and end up achieving none of them. Any goals you have should be aligned with the overall marketing goals of the company. Examples of goals might be:

  • Grow brand awareness in a given audience

  • Acquire new customers

  • Increase the number of brand searches

  • Increase profit margin

  • Launch a product or product range

  • Reactivate lapsed customers

  • Increase website visits

  • Increase app downloads

And many more. What’s important is that there’s a shared understanding of what you are trying to achieve and that all available resources go into achieving it.

Campaign KPIs

This is a more prescriptive view of the campaign purpose. It describes what is being measured, how it’s being measured over what timescale. That timescale may differ from the timescale of the campaign; brand response campaigns, for example, may well continue to pay back over the course of many months after investment has ended.

You will find this par useful for a few reasons - firstly, and most importantly it gives everyone an expectation of the scale of the campaign. This is key for setting out media budgets and even more so for getting them signed off. No-one is going to agree to a campaign that you don’t feel will have a good chance of paying off,so this is a good sense check for yourself as to what you think is achievable before you put wheels in motion.

It’s also a good way of tracking the performance of yourself and the various responsibilities that you might have. Any marketer that has asked for a promotion or a pay rise knows how difficult it can sometimes to be separate out your performance from the direction of the business, so this is a great set of documents to have up your sleeve.

Time Period of Campaign

This states the time over which you intend to run the campaign. You may, of course, decide to extend or curtail your campaign depending on performance. This again gives an idea of the scale of your campaign (and also an idea of how much it is going to cost)

Audience and audience insights

You will have already named the audience in the campaign purpose and KPI part of the brief. This is where you provide some more detail and insight into the demographics and habits of your targeted audience(s). You may also be able to provide some context around their behaviour during the time period of the campaign; for example, during the Black Friday period even less price sensitive audiences are more likely to be shopping for offers.

You may want to supply your audience definitions, data and and insights in a separate document to any third parties who are not familiar with it. This is such a key part of marketing that it may be worth spending time discussing it with them in follow on calls as well - if you not have a shared understanding of who your audience is, it can be really hard to get effective targeting, messaging and creative treatments.

This information will be used to form creative and messaging proposals, as well as how media is going to be targeted. In practice, you may well have some responsibility yourself for doing this, but it’s worth separating out the different parts of what you are doing so you don’t have to hold it in your head. Your media agency or team will also use the audience data to identify the Facebook, Google, TV audiences that correspond as well as the most effective distribution of spend.

Messaging

It’s likely that you already have brand messaging you wish to use and this is where you can ensure that all channels and executions are using it consistently. However, if this is part of a major brand relaunch, you may chose to leave this as one of the sections that you are looking for a proposal on, in which case, you probably don’t want yet to be sending this document out to your media and creative teams - think of it as a process rather than a set of instructions carved into stone.

Campaign Execution description

This is the part that you want to be completed by your creative resources. While their full execution may run to many pages of powerpoint, I find it’s useful to ask them to describe the execution in a paragraph so you can capture their thinking for future reference and review.

Media Execution description

Similar to the above, this is a top level description supplied by your media resource setting out what they propose to spend, how and when. Again, it’s likely that they will have a fuller supporting document for this.

Collateral required

Your various resources set out what collateral is required for the campaign, such as images, video, product etc. It’s likely that the creative resource proposing the execution will also be the one fulfilling it, but it’s worth including here so that everyone is aligned

Proposed project costs

This is where you add up how much you’re going to need to spend! Depending on the nature of your resource, you may or may not want to include agency costs. As a rule of thumb, if I’m using as agency as a one off I’ll include it but if I have the agency cost as part of my annual budget then I leave it out.

Sign offs required

This is key! List out everyone at the business end who needs to see and agree to creative, media and costs before the campaign goes ahead. Having done all this work, you do not want your campaign scuppered by the Finance Director being unaware of additional spend occurring during the period.

So there we have it. I normally create the document in two parts - one setting out all the sections that I need to communicate, and then when I have the proposal meeting(s) with your creative and media teams I summarise and complete their sections. It may take a couple of goes around to get it right if you are not satisfied with their proposals, but remember that ultimately the eventual outcomes are your responsibility so don’t be afraid to push back if you don’t feel that what you are seeing will be effective.

JOSH DUGGAN
Josh Duggan
Josh is a Director at Vervaunt and he runs the paid media offering. Josh has worked for a host of large media agencies and has managed paid campaigns and strategies for some of the biggest brands in the world.