Do I need to write an introduction? I think the title nails it but for the sake of clarity, here are 5 things you should absolutely include when writing a digital brief. Whether it be for a campaign, a new website or something in between, please use this list to empower you and your agency. Or at least to get your agency to deliver work that doesn’t end in countless rounds of “well, that’s not quite what we asked for…”.
Shimmering, illuminating insights from your customer research that act as beacons for us when developing our response. How and where your products and services are used, and by whom, are like gems to an agency and we’re happy to dig through reports & raw data to dive for more pearls, but we love it when brands are all over their research and understand what matters to their customers.
Some people call Insights the kernel of strategy; I prefer to think of them as that lovely hazelnut at the centre of a Ferrero Rocher. Either way, Insights are one of two heavyweight factors in whether a brief succeeds or fails. What’s the other factor? KPIs.
Define what metrics you use to measure success and anchor the brief to them. The project shouldn’t matter; a new website and a lead generation campaign both can and should be quantified in terms of how their success will be measured. A word of caution: try not to choose KPIs that are diametrically opposed to one another: if you want to dramatically increase revenue and simultaneously increase ROI, don’t compromise. Choose the most important KPI and commit.
If you have KPIs, let’s talk Benchmarks. Share the numbers behind your KPIs as they are now and quantify what improvement you want to see; e.g. what uptick in revenue or decrease in operational costs do you need in order to declare a new website a success? If your current market penetration is 12%, does a marketing campaign that breaks 15% get you promoted? Does 18% get you a bonus and the key to the parking space that is usually reserved for Andrea from sales? Help us to help you.
MARKETING & ADVERTISING ACTIVITY.
Provide an overview of your other marketing and advertising activity as well as spend and what you are/aren’t doing compared to previous years. It frames what’s realistic when we evaluate your desired KPIs and how wide the gap is between benchmarks and targets: one brand I worked with chose not to renew a national TV channel sponsorship in their new financial year and watched in horror as their branded search decreased by 35% despite increasing their PPC budget threefold.
I assume your digital brief requires the delivery of a campaign or project that already has messaging and creative defined (if not, let’s do that first!). I’ve left Creative until last to be a contrarian: Creative is easily the most important thing to include within a digital brief because, as the late, great David Abbott candidly phrased it, “Sh*t that arrives at the speed of light is still sh*t”, so please don’t ask us to promote a campaign that is going to force Clip Art quality imagery with drab ‘punchlines’ into people’s eyeballs.
The world is already full of “blands” with dire creative and it doesn’t need any more. Be exciting. Be unique. Be worthy of remark. I beg of you.
Therefore I shall make the following assumptions:
- You work with a fantastic creative agency or in-house team who have absolutely smashed it and provided creative that would make Michelangelo weep with joy
- You have distinctive brand assets that help people recognise who you are quickly and easily
- The creative you supply to us is from this decade i.e. it’s not snippets from a brochure
One final note: we love to know what kind of people we’re working with. Wrap up a brief with a bit about yourselves as people rather than the brand you represent. Love a bit of stamp collecting? Moonlight as a dub techno producer? Compete with your friends in your own Bake Off each year but still fear Patisserie Week since that incident in 2017? We want to know!
Alex Guest is Digital Marketing Director at Reckless. As GO! Network members they help brands deliver results through digital marketing, experience design as well as development and technology . If you’d like to learn more about our agency network or get advice on specific challenges, get in touch here.