A poorly briefed media strategist is like an artist without inspiration. Without inspiration, an artist can create a painting, but it won’t touch its audience. In order for a media strategist to create an impactful and effective media strategy, a clear, comprehensive brief is critical.
Yes, a good media strategist – without a brief – may still be able to devise an efficient media plan for the brand, but no work done “in a vacuum” can ever be truly effective.
While creative media strategists constantly expose themselves to new ideas, demonstrating a healthy curiosity in the world around them, the brief will always serve as the starting point. It will ensure the accurate direction of a media strategist’s focus, best leveraging their skills to the benefit of the brand.
As a marketer, there are certain considerations to bear in mind which will help ensure your media team has the best possible foundation to devise a compelling, impactful media strategy….and it starts with the brief.
Remember that you know your brand better than anyone
A media strategist cannot conceive a creative and relevant strategy without as much information as possible. Often clients assume that the agency, and by default, the media strategist, understands their business as well as they do; and that they will automatically “be on the same page”.
Yet, even when a media strategist has been working with a brand for a long time, a brief is still required as businesses are dynamic and goal posts are ever changing.
Rather share information your strategist may already know, rather than run the risk of leaving key detail out.
The media strategist might know, for example, that your brand’s largest region is Gauteng. However, you as marketer may need to tell them that Mpumalanga is an area where the product category has the most potential, despite being a lot smaller. Thus, the media strategist can adjust their strategy accordingly, with an increased focus on this region.
Objectives are the foundation
While it may seem rudimentary, don’t forget to brief your media team on your business and communication objectives. Objectives underpin everything; by gaining a clear understanding of what you want your business to achieve, the strategist can set out relevant media objectives aligned to your business objectives, helping ensure measurability and ROI of the campaign.
As brand custodian, make sure you answer all the ‘Why’s?’ for your media strategist.
Your brand’s target market is female-skewed. Why? Because research has shown that, in this category, women are the primary decision makers.
60% of your sales take place at month-end. Why? Because your target market’s income levels are low, and they only have a small window in the month when they have disposable income available.
In turn, your media strategist should also be a “why?” person. When you brief them, be encouraged if they ask a lot of questions – this shows they are committed to understanding your brand. In addition, their why’s might push you to re-think something that you had never questioned before.
Nothing is as effective as a conversation
Ideally, the briefing should be a conversation, with all stakeholders in the room. For example, at 99c, we begin all new campaigns by hosting a kickstart with as many relevant parties present as possible; client, client service, media (ATL and Digital), PR and creative. This leaves little room for miscommunication or misinterpretation, and fresh, innovative ideas and new considerations are often the product of a robust discussion, as opposed to the agency reading your brief in isolation. While the value of a written brief cannot be discounted, it is most beneficial in accompaniment to a verbal session with all parties present.
And finally, here’s your basic check list for a good media brief:
1. What is the brand, and what is its current market perception?
2. What is the desired market perception? You might wonder why this is included, but the “media is the message” and the chosen media influences the brand perception.
3. The environment in which the brand operates – key competitors, etc.
4. Business and campaign objectives
5. Desired consumer response
6. Target market need states
9. Creative – does any already exist?
10. Target market – who do we want to reach? Demographics and psychographics
– Here, provide as many consumer insights as is possible
11. Media considerations – your thoughts on what has worked/not worked in the past.
12. What other activities are planned to support the brand?
Keep your media strategist close. An effective media plan is one that is an integral part of the holistic brand communication strategy and should be treated as such. By compiling clear, comprehensive briefs, having regular conversations with your media strategist and including them in relevant planning sessions with key stakeholders, you are ensured of a creative, integrated, effective and impactful media plan.
Vonda Meekin Wilcox is head of media at 99c. She works closely with all departments to conceptualise and execute 360 media strategies, delivering on clients’ communication and audience objectives.
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