A marketing brief is not the same as production brief

And neither is a sales brief. Or an app brief, a web brief, or a copy brief, or a creative brief, or come to think of it a research brief or a brief to purchase data.

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And neither is a sales brief. Or an app brief, a web brief, or a copy brief, or a creative brief, or come to think of it a research brief or a brief to purchase data.

My thoughts on this came about after posting a blog on Watertight Marketing called ‘How to write a marketing brief in 10 simple steps‘… I got a tweet asking what the difference is between a sales brief, a marketing brief and a production brief, and here’s what I say:

Well, they’re all the same but different

The simple fact is with all is that you are just outlining a requirement. And quite often other briefs fall out of an over all marketing brief in answer to the brief if you see what I mean. Anyway, if we look at the 10 steps we shared for writing a marketing brief, we can start to see the differences and when certain information may not be required to be included in a brief over another and visa versa:

1. Product/background info

All briefs need this to give the person who is actioning the brief some substance. In my 20 odd years of writing briefs Ive found that this information is needed over and over and over again. To avoid getting writers cramp, I recommend all the businesses I work with create a ‘marketing manual’ which has this information in it, saving the need to keep re-typing it – you simply refer to the manual as an appendix. Anyway, I would say no matter which brief you are writing, you always need this step as a given.

2. Competition

So a marketing and sales brief would definitely need information about your competitors, but a ‘production’ brief may not. A production brief is usually written for something like a video or a printed item and would detail more technical ‘production’ information (after the thinking or creative has been done to a separate brief). If the supplier feels the need to know more about competitors, again they could be referred back to the marketing manual where this kind of generic information is held.

3. What

Yup, you definitely need to say what the output is on any kind of brief. I think you’ll find that a marketing brief might have a list of items in this section, of which each would need a creative/production brief preparing in addition to the marketing brief. I’d also say that web and app briefs might get quite technical here and include functional specifications, wish lists and anything out of scope (just to be clear).

4. Why

This is simply objectives – the purpose of doing the task. If you ask yourself ‘What are the sales objectives?’, or ‘What are the production objectives?’, what would you answer?

5. Who

See ‘Competitors’. Your personas or target audience profiles are also important on all briefs, but could be held in the marketing manual. However, If you were writing a ‘production’ brief for the print of a 48 page catalogue, I’m not sure telling the printer who your target audience is will help him. But the designer of that catalogue would certainly be interested – that’s where it would be put in the marketing/creative brief.

6. When

This is all about timings and deadlines whether it is lead times, turn around times, publishing dates, activity appropriate timings etc. Be clear about what you mean under ‘when’ and even when ‘when’ is too late for something to happen.

7. How

For a sales brief for example, you may wish to mention ideal sales targets and return on investment here, and how you will be measuring success (metrics). For a printed item measuring its success may be trickier.

8. Likes & Dislikes

Not so applicable in a sales brief I suppose, but what ever the activity you are briefing, an indication of similar activity that you have seen that you liked or disliked, or know that has performed well o not well, would all be useful to your supplier here.

9. Mandatories

All briefs need an idea of what is allowed and not allowed to company policies and guidelines I would suggest.

10. Budget

No matter what your brief, and I say again and again, if you ‘haven’t got a budget do you mean ‘the skies the limit’ or do you want it for free? Be clear about your budget and don’t wast your suppliers time by being vague with it omitting any kind of indication of it from the outset. You can’t have a £10,000 app if you’ve only got £500.

At the end of the day, I am not a sales specialist, but I have written many a production brief in my time. I think the main thing is with any brief, be clear about what your expectations are from the piece of activity you are commissioning and why you are doing it. No point in doing something that is of no value to your business.

And the kinds of briefs don’t stop there. Once you’ve written a marketing brief, lots of activity and materials usually fall out of it that all need a copy brief, a creative brief, a production brief, a technical brief and that’s before we even started with a web brief, a research brief a customer insight brief and many more. hands up who’d like a guide to each of these. I’m sure I can keep myself busy on all of them for you.

You might also like to read our blog on ‘How to structure a case study‘ here »

Cheryl Crichton

Helps small businesses stop wasting money on marketing. Watertight Marketing Certified Practitioner, MCIM Chartered Marketer and mentor.

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