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Study finds 33 percent of budget wasted due to poor briefs


Study finds 33 percent of budget wasted due to poor briefs


In a world-first study, the BetterBriefs Project has looked at the shortcomings and successes of marketing briefs. How effective are briefs, and how much time are marketers wasting on them?

Released on 13 October, the research has revealed staggering statistics that could be eye-opening for industry professionals. The results show there is confusion, misalignment and miscommunication between marketers and agencies regarding the practice of briefing.

Marketers and agencies

When it comes to marketers and agencies, there is a huge divide between them as to their beliefs around the efficacy of briefs. Despite the value that both parties ascribe to briefs, it seems the numbers are clear. 

An astounding 80 percent of marketers believe that they are briefing agencies well, while only 10 percent of agencies agree with this statement. 

Breaking these numbers down further, 78 percent of marketers believe their briefs are clearly written and have strategic direction. A meagre five percent of agency representatives agree with this. Eighty-three percent of marketers think that they are using clear and concise language when briefing. Only seven percent of agencies agree.

Need for briefs

Marketers and agencies are aligned in some views, however. Eighty-nine percent of marketers and 86 percent of agencies agree that it’s challenging to produce good work without a clear brief. And 90 percent of marketers and 92 percent of agencies believe a brief is one of the most valuable, yet paradoxically most neglected, tools there is.

The impact

It seems that the importance of a good brief is not to be undervalued. But one thing that is perhaps not taken into account is the impact financial strain can have on a brief and vice versa – how much a poor brief can erode a budget. The survey found that 33 percent of marketing budgets goes to waste. Poor briefs and misdirected work lead to redundant work hours. 

Rebriefs are also considered to be common, with 69 percent of marketers and 73 percent of agencies agreeing this is a regular occurrence. But the practice is also expensive and frustrating for both sides.

Director of marketing strategy and executive director at IPA EffWorks, Janet Hull, has experience in the area and offers the following advice. “You can’t produce good work without a good evidence-based brief. It should have realistic outcomes and sensible budgets. These are the building blocks of the client/agency relationship and the campaign outcome,” she says.

“A bad brief results in wasted time, money and patience all round. But let’s turn a negative into a positive here. Now we know the extent of the problem, we are also presented with an opportunity to improve the briefing process.”


Liv Croagh

Liv Croagh was the Managing Editor of Marketing Mag from September 2021 to September 2023.

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