Don’t Be a Lazy Marketer. Use Marketing Briefs.

Hey marketers, if you can’t or don’t want to take the time on the front-end to map out just what it is you want to achieve and why, then don’t expect to have any success.  Sure, you might get lucky, but over time, the odds are greatly against you.  You need to write a marketing brief.

Tom Fishburne is a marketer turned marketoonist, with a special ability to communicate powerful ideas via cartoons.  I’ve been following his cartoons for years, and I love the one below.  It’s an essential marketing reminder and lesson.

Marketing briefs are not just for advertising.  They’re a statement of objectives and a plan for action that is applicable for almost everything you do in marketing.  Besides advertising, I’ve written marketing briefs for market research projects, creating a new website, building a public relations campaign, developing a brand name and logo, new product marketing communications, and more.

The most important element is organizing your thoughts.  Pick any format that you’re comfortable with, and keep this in mind:  if someone who doesn’t know your business can read the brief and have a 360 degree understanding of what is to be done and why, you’re in good shape.  My briefs are similar in organization, yet customized depending on the assignment.

As an example, here are the sections that I had in a marketing communications brief for a B2B product marketing program:

  • Reason for the brief
  • Communication objectives
  • Communication targets
  • Execution guidance and comments
  • Marketing deliverables
  • Geography and timing
  • Tracking metrics
  • Budget (always know your budget or budget range, but depending on the type of assignment, you may not want to release it on the front-end)
  • Attachment with competitor information

Here are four marketing brief tips that have worked great for me:

  • Don’t be afraid to get cross-functional input when preparing the brief.  For example, one of my best briefs incorporated significant input from sales, product management and technical R&D teams.
  • If there are key project decision-makers besides yourself, have them approve and sign the brief on the front-end.  It’s always better when everyone is driving down the same road.
  • Always “present” your brief in-person or virtually.  There is no substitute for the personal touch.
  • Encourage the marketing brief recipient to include in the briefing all the key people likely to work on the project.  You want the team you are hiring or working with to hear your message directly, and learn first-hand why it’s important and why you’re excited.

Headline For Marketers

A good marketing brief can be the difference between success and failure.  If you want the best chance for excellent marketing, use marketing briefs.

Harvey Chimoff is a hands-on marketing leader and business-wide collaborator who builds marketing capabilities in B2B/B2C organizations that drive customer success.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Be a Lazy Marketer. Use Marketing Briefs.

    • Rhonda, thanks for your comment. Budgets are important and having a financial discussion with outside resources is an important part of the process. However, depending on the assignment and the outside resource you’re working with, there may be times when it’s interesting and/or helpful to the marketing team to see how the proposed work is priced without stating a budget number upfront. For example, one scenario is when the marketing team is not sure what the assignment will cost and wants to get a handle on the fair market value first. And, not to be overly skeptical, but sometimes the work can be priced to the level of the budget regardless of the value of the work. My intent was only to convey that marketers should have some flexibility regarding sharing a budget number in the brief, and that it should be considered on a case-by-case basis with common sense. I’ve done it both ways successfully.


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