33% of the marketing budget is wasted on poor briefs

33% of the marketing budget is wasted on poor briefs

Briefs – the one thing that many marketers dread. Regardless of their experience, writing briefs does not get any easier. Project description, objectives, and target audience. At a glance, there is nothing tough about answering those. However, ill-defined briefs are a common sight. In fact, a recent survey revealed misalignments. So, what is the big deal?

0 %
of marketers think they are good at writing briefs.
0 %
of agencies agree.

Time and resources aside, the marketing budget takes a hit. Instead of working with the allocated 100k budget, you could be down to effectively working with a 70k budget. That’s right, 33% of the marketing budget is wasted on poor briefs and misdirected work. Like a tower of uno stacko, starting on shaky ground induces uneasiness and stress at every play. This also includes rewriting briefs along the way.

What makes a good brief then? Briefs serve as guidance for the creative thinking process and most importantly, ensure client-agency alignment throughout the project. Hence, it is important for marketers to know what they truly want to achieve and express that with clarity and focus.


To win the game, one needs to understand the rules first. Is this a game of eyeballs, sales or reputation? Share your internal KPIs that determine if the campaign is a success or a flop. Be specific and identify the measurables. Is the sales campaign targeted at online conversion or in-store? What is the percentage growth expected?

When it comes to painting a big picture, it helps to identify the problems that your product is trying to solve. What are the jobs to be done?

User Persona

Credit: Mockplus.com

Target Audience

A common pitfall when it comes to defining your target audience segment is to stop at the technical terms. “Millennials”, “Families with kids”, “Gen Z”. No doubt these are terms familiar to Marketing and agency folks, but we can do better with more information. Take for example, when it comes to social media ad buys, in addition to age groups, you would be adding relevant “interests”, tapping on “lookalike audience” and so on. The same applies to defining your target audience in briefs. Build personas – this is the time to be stereotypical. Imagine the lifestyle of your typical customer. What are they interested in, how does your product fit into their lifestyle, and what are their pain points or incentives?

With that, you could expand from “Millennials in their 30s” to “Working professionals with some spending power interested in travel and leisure. Willing to spend on Instagrammable experiences. Considerations are quality and uniqueness.”

At times, a secondary target audience may be necessary. Take Monopoly for instance. The primary target audience is parents who have purchasing power while the secondary target audience is actually the children playing the game.


Companies may be hesitant to share the project budget, but this is a critical piece of information. Agencies craft proposals from a helicopter view. Each item has its intended purpose and place in this bigger picture. While it is tempting to do a “pick and mix” from the itemised quotation to ultimately fit your budget, marketing strategy does not work like simple mathematics. The deliverables are designed to work in synergy and amplify the impact along the timeline. Simply put, a strategy that is downsized by half would not work as well as one that is conceived with the intended budget in mind.

With a limited budget, it is especially important to stay focused. Choosing too many channels means spreading your budget too thinly to even create an impact. This is when a well-defined target audience lends its strength to the creative process and strategy development. Use your new creative assets strategically instead of wasting the budget on “single-use” deliverables.

Competitors and/or brands that you look up to

The purpose of this question is to allow us to have a stronger grasp of your brand’s desired state. Direct or indirect competition, share with us the brands that have been on your mind and why. Let us do the work of connecting the dots. Having worked with clients from varying industries mean that agencies could introduce new perspectives from other industries into yours for a breakthrough.

For instance, could a local fish ball brand take inspiration from a Japanese clothing brand? That is what ABrandADay did for DoDoLand, a creative concept by Thong Siek Global.

A familiar name to Singaporeans, DoDo is a heritage brand with a presence in supermarkets, retail spaces and online. While it started as a fish ball manufacturer, today it has more than a hundred SKUs. This year, Thong Siek Global decided to launch DoDo’s experiential store, the first of its kind to house its repertoire of products. Two Japanese brands were named from the fashion industry and food service industry. We preserved the essence of DoDo as a local brand while reflecting the simplicity, modernism, and convenience of the mentioned brands in DoDoLand’s logo design and concept. More on DoDoLand here.

Mandatory Inclusions

Product SKU, messaging (or even keywords), OOH ad buys etc. If there is something that has to be included, no matter how small it may seem, highlight the requirements at the start. When things are mandatory, there is always a reason behind it. Let us speak to you and understand the intent, which we will take to our brainstorming table.

Convey with clarity and stay focused

These are not rocket science. The challenge lies in conveying the information in detail but with clarity. Do not assume that the other party (be it an agency, corporate partner or even customer) is always in the know. Unlike marketers who have constant exposure and engagement with the brand, this group’s interaction model is “touch and go”. As with all types of writing, it takes practice and discipline to get the hang of it. While briefs are filled in by marketers, remember that it is also the agency’s duty to check in for missing information or links, if any.


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