The 7 ways clients benefit from agency creative briefs

12 June 2017 / By Jeff Tarran

As the head of our direct marketing agency’s account team, I’ve always been a proponent of a well-conceived brief. Show me great creative, and it’s a good bet the client and agency put in the time and thought upfront to build a strategic, insightful brief. Recently, we’ve had a couple of clients challenge the creative brief process at the start of a direct mail project. They were just too busy to provide input, answer questions and sign off on our brief before we got to work. That’s dangerous and shortsighted. Not just for us, but for them.

Show me great creative, and it’s a good bet the client and agency put in the time and thought upfront to build a strategic, insightful brief.

Jeff Tarran

Briefs aren’t just for the agency creative team. They serve numerous stakeholders and play a key role for clients as well. Here’s why clients should insist on a thorough creative brief process:

  1. To save time (and time is money). The better the brief, the more likely the agency is to get it right the first time and the fewer revisions are needed down the road.
  2. To inspire your agency. A good brief contains insights that light up creative teams.
  3. To think it through. Creating a document forces attention on important specifics of the project and makes it less likely that questions will arise later.
  4. So the agency gets the facts right. Facts matter. Let’s not dispute product and target specifics in a creative presentation.
  5.  For you to refer to when reviewing your agency’s work. The brief is an agreement between client and agency: the goals, the target, the product and everything else that’s important. Step one when reviewing the work is to make sure it reflects the brief.
  6. To engage your internal stakeholders. Use the brief development process as a forum for input and buy-in to creative direction by internal stakeholders so they are engaged early. The brief also provides parameters for their response to the creative (see #5 above).
  7.  To build confidence. Confidence in your agency — that they get it and will deliver work that’s on track. Agency confidence in you — that you are engaged and supporting their efforts.

At Gunderson Direct, we won’t jump into creative development until we get client sign-off to a brief. That protects us while it benefits our clients. They’re more likely to see great creative ideas that hit the mark, that they can sell to their internal stakeholders and that achieve or exceed business goals.

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Jeff Tarran
About The Author

Jeff Tarran

As VP of Account Services, Jeff works with our clients to analyze business problems and develop direct marketing strategies that achieve their goals. A 20-year veteran and strategic thought leader in direct marketing, Jeff has headed two independent direct response agencies in the Bay Area after starting his career at Foote Cone and Belding. He earned a Dual BS in management and communications at Syracuse University and his MBA in marketing at Columbia University in New York.

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