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What’s the old saying about process? Crap in, crap out. Well, the same goes when creating a brief for a B2B marketing agency. The brief is the starting pistol for making your engagement with a B2B marketing agency successful.
A good brief will be your guiding light when selecting the right agency, selecting the strategy they suggest and measuring the results. If you fail to build an effective brief, you’ll likely not generate the results you’re looking to achieve.
This article will share a structure and approach for creating a compelling brief for your agency selection process. We’ll flag what we think is important and tell you where to cut out noise and distraction.
Creating your agency brief should always start with objectives and goals. Setting out your objectives internally first will help you get all stakeholders aligned. You should consider identifying all of the key stakeholders and ensuring they sign off on your brief. Any agency will struggle to serve your objectives if you’re not aligned internally first. A good brief will get everyone bought in and determine the direction of the project. The document will define the goals, scope and problem you’re trying to resolve.
Benefits of a Marketing Agency Brief
A well put together brief will ensure that you and your agency have a clear sight of the objectives and results you seek. Being clear around goals will mean you can effectively manage any noise or distractions and allow your agency to work with the knowledge that they know what you expect.
If you haven’t established your objectives, there is an opportunity for scope creep and goalpost changing once you start working together. Any changes will lead to more time spent exploring dead ends – more time will result in more spend.
If you’re clear from the outset on your objectives, your agency will understand how you measure success. A good agency will challenge and question your goals to ensure that they have a rigorous understanding of what you are trying to achieve. They will equally come armed to demonstrate how they will measure success rather than rely on subjective means.
What is a B2B Marketing Agency Brief?
A concise overview usually created by a marker or sales leader providing agencies with an overview of your requirements. It should include the problem you’re trying to solve, the goals and objectives, challenges, target ideal customer profile, key personas, messaging and products details and other vital details. The brief is often shared with the agency before the project gets underway.
Building an Effective B2B Marketing Agency Brief
Over my career, I’ve written both good and lousy agency briefs. It a process that is difficult to hone, but in this article, I’ve tried to capture the components of what you should consider when forming your B2B marketing agency brief. An excellent brief will inspire your agency to deliver a solution that solves your specific problem.
A successful brief should solve any misunderstandings in advance; you should be clear about who should be involved from your side and the skills you require to meet your objectives successfully. You should also include critical timelines. Every critical decision that is to be made should be focused on aligning around your brief. Projects and requirements do change; make sure you update your document as the engagement evolves, so it stays focused and up to date with the changing landscape and ensure everyone understands the changes.
1. Problem Definition
Be clear about the problem you’re looking to solve. Be honest about how serious or problematic your issues are. Ask your internal stakeholders for input and make a hypothesis on the potential route cause. Keep asking questions of your team and stakeholders to get to the real problem and core issue. Use that detail to share warts and all that you are trying to overcome.
2. Outline Key Objectives
Write an overview of your key objectives. You should structure your goals logically. Don’t limit yourself to just marketing objectives. Any good agency will want to understand the real business impact you are looking to achieve.
Make sure your goals and objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound)
- e.g. Increase EBITDA by 14% by the end of FY2022
- e,g, Increase revenue by 38% by the end of FY2024
- e.g. Increase pipeline conversion by 26.5% by the end of FY2021
- e.g. Book revenue in year revenue of £1.6m by the end of FY2021
- e.g. Increase website traffic by 44% by the end of FY2021
- e.g. Exit the year with a monthly run rate of 125 leads per month
It’s equally worth being specific about the ‘true objective’, the one clear goal that will be the bellwether of success or failure.
3. Be specific about your target audience.
Two key aspects should make up your target audience.
- Ideal Customer Profile – those organisations that you seek to sell your products and services that are best suited to your business. Be highly specific; the more detailed, the better. You can find out how to write a perfect ICP here in one of our previous articles.
- Buyer Personas – once you’ve defined which organisations, the next step is to determine who within the business are you looking to engage. This isn’t just decision-makers but also those involved in all stages of the buying/sales process. Again you can read more about Buyer Personas creation here.
4. The Market Landscape
Competitors present both risks and opportunities. They should be understood and taken into account when planning any marketing activity. You can use them as inspiration for ideas you haven’t tried or learn from their failings. Include a list of your direct competitors and alternative routes that your target market has at achieving their goals.
5. Practicalities, likes/dislikes and specifics
Let’s not ignore the fact that we’ll want to get to the action quickly out the back of the briefing process. It’s worth spelling out any pre-requisites that you have. Be clear about the deliverables you expect.
If you have timescales or key milestones, spell them out. If you have guidance on design, brand guidelines, specific tone of voice, be specific. If you have a list of internal stakeholders for approvals and sign off – ensure it is clear. No one likes surprises – make sure you don’t create them.
It may also be worth adding things that are not (or you do not want to) be included, such as specific channels, colours, messages to be avoided.