‘Wasteful’ marketers urged to clean up messy briefs

marketersThe IPA is calling on UK marketers to embrace a new guide to writing agency briefs on the back of a damning study which exposes how they are wasting billions of pounds a year on shoddy practices which lead to misdirected and, ultimately, impotent campaigns.

According to the study, UK marketers estimate that more than a quarter (26%) of their marketing budget is wasted on poor briefs and misdirected work. Meanwhile only just under a third (30%) say they have clear evaluation criteria in place to assess the work coming off the brief.

With total UK adspend reaching nearly £32bn last year, that is the equivalent of £8bn being poured down the drain.

All too often these shortcomings are blamed on agencies, yet only 6% of UK agencies are clear on the strategic direction in the briefs they receive from their clients, with the vast majority (73%) believing the briefs they receive from clients are not good enough.

Another major issue is that too many briefs are simply unclear on the target audience; only 38% of UK agencies are clear on the target group in the briefs they receive from clients, while even a third (34%) of marketers themselves are unclear on target groups in briefs.

But UK marketers responsible for writing briefs do not lack experience or seniority; 74% are aged over 35; 72% have more than 10 years’ experience as a marketer; and 64% carry the title ‘senior’ or ‘director’.

In an effort to help rectify the current bleak state of briefs on a UK and global scale, advisory and training consultancy BetterBriefs has co-authored a best practice guide with Mark Ritson, in partnership with the IPA.

“The best way for a client to brief an agency” will be officially unveiled at the IPA Business Growth Conference today (July 6).

This new guide draws on BetterBriefs’ research data to provide a practical tool to help marketers write better briefs, underpinned by solid strategic thinking.

It also aims to create a shared understanding between marketers and agencies as to what constitutes a good brief (and briefing); chapters cover: The importance of briefs; Marketing strategy shaping briefs; Writing briefs and Briefing the brief.

BetterBriefs co-founders Matt Davies and Pieter-Paul von Weiler said: “The purpose of this guide is to help clients write the best possible briefs for their agencies. It comes at a watershed moment. Marketers have more tools at their disposal than ever before to connect with consumers and to measure the effectiveness of what they do.

“Except none of this matters if the one thing that everything hinges on – the brief – isn’t clear, isn’t thought through and isn’t right.

“Ultimately, we all want the same thing: more impactful and effective work that delivers better business results. This guide is all about facilitating this.”

IPA associate director of marketing Joyce Kelso added: “At first glance, it is hard not to feel deflated by these UK findings regarding the poor quality of briefing. We clearly still have a lot of work to do.

“What is positive though, is that with this hard work comes real opportunity. Not only have Better Briefs helped to identify the problem, they – along with former marketing professor turned “guru” Mark Ritson – have helped to come up with a solution that could really boost our industry’s capabilities.

“This new best practice guide will prove invaluable in helping to rectify the issues highlighted by the research from which we will waste less time, energy and resource and direct our people to what they do best: provide innovative solutions to clients’ problems.

“I strongly encourage all agencies and clients to get hold of their free copy.”

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