5 mistakes to avoid when briefing your marketing agency

Aktualisiert: Apr 14

Working with marketing agencies is a particularly common practice in the food & beverage industry. Brands use agencies to play on new ideas, get inspiration or consulting and as an extension of their in-house execution teams. But in order to get that setup right, external and internal teams have to learn how to work together. Usually, it all starts with a briefing.

As a food marketing agency, we get briefed a lot and have therefore shaped a good sense for what a great marketing brief should look like. If you have to perform this task on a usual basis, our 5 points “what not to do” checklist might help you get even better at your daily work with all those agencies out there.

1. Not sharing all the information needed to perform the task

Information is key to a great, holistic understanding of a brand, its products, the team behind it and the goals that need to be reached. Any information is highly valuable for a food marketing agency that is supposed to help making the brand grow. Especially, if the client-agency-relationship is fairly new or there is little time involved to perform a task, a good, thorough briefing is inevitable.

If we had to summarize the most important facts that need to be part of it, we would recommend:

  • The goals of the project or task

  • The status quo

  • The brand guidelines

  • The target group

  • The current sales setup

  • The budget & timing

  • Any important learnings (good & bad) from similar projects in the past

  • The expected outcome

  • The execution tools available

2. Not committing to clear goals - together!

We just mentioned it as briefing topic number 1: the goal(s) of the project. Usually, there is a main goal supported by a couple of side goals, which should be reached by the end of the project's timespan.

Make sure that the agency completely understands what you are aiming at, listen to potential doubts and contrary proposals, and agree on a goal (in writing) that everyone can keep in mind. Not being clear about the goals right from the beginning can lead to projects that are not aligned with the actual target, produce poor results or become more expensive or time consuming than originally planned. It is important to set realistic (that doesn't exclude “challenging”!) goals to strive for, and that both parties know right from the start what the ideal outcome should look like.

3. Expecting that a lot of things “are clear to everyone”

Even though the brand owner might feel that he or she shared all important information in the initial briefing, a food marketing agency might be left with challenges when some elements between the lines are not shared during the project. Sometimes, an official briefing might include the basic topics around a project, but lacking some detailed information which has to be shared in addition. For example, the reason why the project will be run just now and not half a year earlier, as originally planned. Insights from the sales team that cannot be shared in an official document but might make sense to discuss in a one to one phone call. The specific inhouse rules that some produced content should follow a certain pattern, as else it will not get approved. Insights about the key competitor that - as you found out - might be planning a similar campaign in the near future….anything that helps the agency to understand your brand even better and enables the external team to read between the lines has a tremendously positive outcome on the project performance.

Imagine how long it took you to fully understand the brand and company you currently work for. If you can enable your marketing agency to become just as tied to the brand you commonly work on, the results can only get better.

4. Not communicating & quantifying the output of a task

Even though there might be a common understanding of the task as well as the underlying brand background, being very specific and clear about the results you expect is very important. Sharing the same idea of what should be achieved in exactly which format is crucial to always being clear about the goal, and also the way that leads toward it.

Therefore, this point does not only include KPI's, but output formats like quantities, timelines, staff or hours involved, number of design rounds etc. Anything that helps you and your marketing agency to put down a number and agree to it will make it much easier in the end to evaluate the output as well as negotiate the tasks along the way.

5. Not motivating the people involved

As a final, but sometimes crucial mistake, it is important to point out that the people working in food marketing agencies are exactly just that: People! This said, the outcome of a task to be performed can be influenced by motivation. In business relationships, we tend to only focus on hard facts & figures, forgetting that external partners - just like internal team members - probably perform better in an environment of trust, motivation and shared achievement.

This does not mean you should neglect your expectations, not criticize or avoid to talk about things that don't go as expected. But giving your marketing agency the feeling of shared benefits, motivating them by being thankful for their support and working on eye level with everyone involved in the project can make a tremendous difference in your relationship and long term success.

We hope, some of these short reminders can help you at getting even better in your next briefing rounds, and developing a prosperous, successful long term relationship to your food marketing agency. If there is anything you would like to add to this list - or any project you might like to work on with us - simply reach out to We are happy to hear from you.

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