In his latest opinion piece for Marketing Week, Mark Ritson says that “90% of marketers fail to brief agencies effectively, and their failures begin with a total lack of strategy”. At Optix, we receive a lot of briefs. So it is essential that we gather together our thoughts about the point Ritson raises.
Mark Ritson, has one thing very right; having a strong brief and strategy, is undeniably the path to success. As a strategy-led agency, we know the impact this has on creating a lucrative campaign or project. However, not every client will approach us with this all laid out.
Having a clear strategy
The article is correct in highlighting that lots of marketers don’t have a strategy or a clear brief. Becky Brennan, Key Account Director, says “This isn’t a new problem – in every agency relationship I’ve worked in that hasn’t gone well, it always comes back to the brief and the strategy, and were they set properly upfront. We’ll always try to start with a strategy, we know it’s important, but quite often we hear ‘ah it’s ok, let just get going’. Strategy can be seen as an unnecessary delay to tactical activity that gets the results.” This can cause issues from the start, as to achieve such results we need a clear idea of exactly what our clients want to achieve, who they’re targeting and what their offer/messaging is.
However, Thomas Haynes, Head of Digital, adds that “we can typically achieve this from our clients by asking the right questions, even if they don’t provide it initially.” As a strategy-led agency, at Optix we believe it is part of our role to guide the client in solidifying their strategy and their brief, if that’s not something they’ve already done.
Working as strategic partners
Although Becky shares that “admittedly our discovery sessions run better when the client brings a brief and they have a strategic direction already in mind, we’re always challenging that and amending it as we work – it’s possible to create those outputs together with the client before we deploy any campaign work.”
Ultimately, we like to work as strategic partners to our clients. We want to help clients to put in place a strategy based on our research and their understanding of their audience and marketplace. Rob Stevens, Managing Director, shares that he is “really proud of the work we do here at Optix, as strategic consultants for our marketing partners, because creating great strategy is at the heart what we do.” Thomas says “That’s why we often push back on people who ask us to help them with a specific tactic (I.E, if they come to us for help with PPC) and tell them they need to understand how this fits into their wider plan.”
Planning your strategy
After all, “a goal without a plan is just a wish” as quoted by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Rob also guides towards what Mike Tyson famously said; “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Rob shares that “what we can say from these two quotes is that it’s good to have a plan, but be prepared to be agile and open to change. This is why we set annual strategies and review them on a quarterly basis to ensure they are relevant and effective.”
The important thing to get across is how crucial the brief and the strategy are, to the success of the campaign or project; whether we create them together or whether they’re given to us, they need to be clearly considered and set right from the start. To learn more about the benefits of partnering with a digital marketing agency, read Alaister’s blog post ‘Why Hire a Digital Marketing Agency (To Work Alongside Your In-House Marketing Team’.
Want to learn more about why strategy is so important? Join us at our upcoming Digital Strategy event on Wednesday the 10th of November at 10 am to see how your marketing team can level up.