How to write a marketing brief in 10 simple steps


by Cheryl Crichton

“If you don’t say what you want, you won’t want what you get”

There’s a skill to writing a marketing brief. If you get it right your supplier will deliver first time – no surprises. If you get it wrong (or worse still don’t provide one at all), it costs time and money to put it right.



This has been our most popular 'how to' for over 5 years. So, we've popped it into a handy PDF for you to download and print, as it is definitely one of those that you find yourself wanting to make notes on.


Good marketing starts with a good brief

Writing an effective brief has been an essential part of my role as an account handler for over 20 years. My best advice is to take extra care to make them engaging, relevant and factual, because a boring brief makes for an unmotivated supplier. And, ultimately a disappointing end result.

Even when a customer provides us with a good brief, I will talk it through with them and make sure we all agree with the requirements. And if we disagree with an objective or output, a decent marketing consultant won’t mind adding our penneth and making specific recommendations to help get it spot-on.



When preparing a brief avoid jargon, lingo and acronyms. Include facts (no assumptions or embellishments). Use plain speaking English and include as much detail as possible. It’s easier and quicker for your supplier to cut out the superfluous rather than have to fill in some gaps.

10 key items to have on your checklist

Whether you need a creative brief, web brief, copy brief or even an event brief – here’s a useful checklist to help make sure nothing gets missed:



Include a brief summary about your company, its products and its services. Set the scene a little and try and include something about your brand, its personality and philosophy. Pricing and sales processes should also be mentioned. Will there need to be any initial research, or do you already have some research that findings that will help?



Talk about competitor products and services. What marketing activity are they doing and are they doing it better? Include examples and/or weblinks.



What is your required output? I.E. what type of activity are you looking for (an ad, a DM campaign a new website, a conference)? Think about how the deliverable will be used -- in print, on a website, in a salesperson's briefcase, etc.



Why are you doing this activity? What objectives are you trying to achieve (raise awareness, collect data, increase sales, get someone to do something...)?



Describe your target audience - who you want to talk to. Are they business or consumers? Describe why you think they need your product or service, and why you think they might not be buying (barriers). Try and describe the role of this person in their organisation, or what type of consumer they are. What do they read? What do they listen to?



There are some simple equations you can use to work out how much you should invest, but saying there is ‘no budget’ either means you expect it for free, or the sky’s the limit! Wouldn’t that be great?

There’s nothing worse than paying for a piece of work that just doesn’t do the trick. Agencies want to meet the brief… so if you get the brief right there should never be a wasted penny spent with marketing suppliers. This is about watertight marketing after all. So, wastage is not an option. And, of course, in small business marketing, every penny counts.



Cheryl Crichton

Cheryl Crichton

Watertight Marketing Accredited Consultant

Cheryl is a highly experienced marketing project manager who’s delivered for the country’s most demanding brands. She’s a high-energy individual, whose passion is for owner-managed businesses where she can make the biggest difference.

Fancy a copy you can scribble on?

This has been our most popular ‘how to’ for over 5 years. So, we’ve popped it into a handy PDF for you to download and print, as it is definitely one of those that you find yourself wanting to make notes on.


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