Over the years, we’ve responded to a fair few creative brief processes. Like all agencies, we’ve won some and lost some. But the true value of the experience comes down to what we’ve learned from the process. That’s why we’ve put together this article on the value of writing a collaborative creative brief (sometimes referred to as pitch brief, the language often depends on the project and the client).
A creative brief confession
Now we could say that winning new business is 100% down to the awesome people at Fifty Five and Five, but that wouldn’t be strictly true. Our most successful proposals have been the result of clients that have been entirely open and fully supportive of a collaborative process to get the best outcome.
Whether you’re a client looking for a new agency, or an agency wanting to improve your pitch-win ratio, this article provides advice for both sides of the fence.
We’ve boiled it down to several key aspects that make up the best type of client-agency partnerships when it comes to a creative brief:
- Evaluation and feedback
With that in mind, let’s start exploring how to make the pitch experience a win-win for all.
Do your research
Client: Finding the right talent, chemistry and shared culture and values with an agency is no easy task. Do your research – know who you want to pitch for your business. Find the experts in your field. For example, Fifty Five and Five is a perfect fit for a B2B tech brand. A bit of time spent here will save effort later weeding our agencies that were never going to fit.
Agency: It makes no sense to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. Inevitably, you’ll end up overstretching your teams, ignoring your existing clients and creating a culture of pitch complacency. Have a scorecard that you evaluate briefs against, and if the results show that you’re not a good fit, take a pass. This is not a sign of weakness; it’s sensible business decision-making. When you get to the creative brief, a good scorecard process will set you up for success.
Client: What are the motivating reasons behind bringing in an agency? What do you and your stakeholders want (vs. what you actually “need”), and how will you communicate this in the creative brief? When it comes to deliverables, think about how you want to run the process and be realistic with your timings and budget.
Agency: If you can’t deliver the scope of work within the timescales or budget, be straight with the client. They’ll appreciate your honesty and directness, even if it may not be an easy conversation. Share your reasons and discuss whether there’s an alternative solution. Don’t ignore your instincts or sacrifice learnings from past experiences just to win the business. It never ends well.
Collaboration is key to a good creative brief
Client: It’s really not worth keeping your cards close to your chest; sharing data (from campaign performance to customer insights) will help agencies shape their strategic response to your brief. It also makes a huge difference when you give them ample opportunities to ask questions.
Agency: Why not offer your client the chance to feed back on your ideas and co-create? It’s an excellent opportunity to showcase your culture, ways of working and compatibility. At Fifty Five and Five, we offer a one-hour problem-solving workshop as part of our approach to new business.
Evaluation and feedback
Client: It can be challenging to evaluate proposals if you don’t have clear criteria, especially if there’s more than one person involved in the decision-making process. Sharing how you plan to score proposals can help agencies ensure they deliver a balanced response, focusing on the same areas that matter to you. Try to include this stuff up front in your creative brief.
Agency: Like after a job interview, make sure you push for feedback – whether you win or lose. It’s essential to learn from every new business opportunity and find ways to apply those learnings in the future. It also allows you to continue a relationship with the client because you never know when there might be a second chance.
If you are looking for a new agency, and have an an awesome brief (or want someone to help you write it), get in touch with the team today.