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The imperial value of the digital brief: a client-side planner’s guide

There are a number of ways to approach digital briefs, but often we’re in such a rush to get them written that we overlook the key elements. We look at some of the questions you should be asking to make your brief as effective as possible.

I absolutely love this presentation by Julian Cole around writing the digital creative brief. I’ve read a number of great (and admittedly written a few downright awful digital briefs), but I think Julian nails the essence of what a good digital strategist or planner should aim for in the creative briefing process.

 

Things to ask before you write your next brief.

Julian’s presentation appealed to me as it made me realise just how many different types of digital briefs there are, and I think before  starting one you need to ask yourself a few key questions.This is particularly true if you’re working client-side when the luxury of writing a brief, especially for an internal job, is unaffordable.

Is there opportunity for long-term value?

What comes to your desk as a reaction to a current problem can have the potential to grow into something with major long-term value to your overarching digital plan. Keep your eyes open to opportunities to align smaller projects with larger, business-led objectives – which also helps secure funding. Good long-term strategic value = bigger digital brief.

How much value do you want your team to put on the project?

If you only have time to write 3 bullet points in an email to your team for a project you want delivered next week, what chance do you have of those same team members putting their best creative mind to it? Putting time, effort and head space into a well thought out brief sets the expectations for your team to do the same.

Are you writing a campaign brief or a creative brief?

This will depend on the size and structure of your team or your relationship with your agency, or you may do a mix of both. If you want your team to be thinking about ideas while they’re brushing their teeth (where all the best ideas happen) then you need to be digging around for those great customer insights that inform a truly inspirational proposition.

Smart Insights have a great digital marketing briefing template (which members can download) that we often refer to during our projects. It has a range of ‘buckets’ that you can pick and choose from to tailor your ideal briefing template.  In part 2 of this blog post I’ll share with you our digital balance briefing template.

Is there data to validate your idea?

Much of a planner’s role is to look at the big idea, but not at the risk of coming up with ‘pie in the sky’ plans. If you think there is value in creating a larger brief within a space you wish to explore, take the time to have your analyst dig around and see what data there is to confirm it.

It’s worth taking the time to do this now, before you spend a monstrous amount of time writing a masterpiece brief that is destined to be lost in the ether.

Check your ‘just get it done’ blinkers.

Personally, my production background makes the temptation to ‘just get it done’ always very attractive, I constantly have to remind myself to take a step back and look at the potential planning value of everything I’m doing. There’s nothing like a deadline to put the blinkers on great strategic value a project might have.

There are so many digital briefing templates out there, and mostly we hack together one with the attributes most relevant to our unique working environments. But it’s the questions we need to ask ourselves before we start the brief, that will help us inspire the quality of work that is created.

The content and advice contained in this post may be out of date. Last updated on October 1, 2013.

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