Why Bad Client Briefs Kill Your Agency’s Margins (and Mirren’s Guide to Preventing It)

March 24, 2023

Although unintentional, most client briefs mislead agencies. Overburdened marketing chiefs are delegating the brief writing process to their more junior team members, and, unfortunately, these are not always seasoned strategists who can accurately represent the business needs of their organization’s C-Suite.

Agencies Must Take it Upon Themselves to Elevate Client Briefs

Too many agencies take poorly-crafted client briefs at face value, or they end up guessing what the senior decision-maker really wants – only to end up completely off the mark. The agency doesn’t discover they’ve gone the wrong direction until it’s too late, often at the client presentation. In addition to a dissatisfied client, agency resources have been completely wasted.

Ultimately, agencies must elevate client briefs and ensure they are aligned with their clients on the most impactful business metrics – and it starts at the outset of every assignment. 

Client Decision-Makers Need Meaningful Business Outcomes

It’s important to understand that senior client marketing leaders measure impact in a manner that is much different from their marketing managers and agencies. They focus on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), the metrics by which the C-suite measures the health and performance of their business and marketing. Clients live and die by their own unique set of category-specific KPIs. They are personally evaluated against them, and more importantly, they are compensated against them.

Senior clients are being held accountable for tangible business growth like never before. In fact, in many situations, they’re being terminated – as scapegoats for poor corporate performance. And, it’s becoming clear for their agencies that they must play a role in this pursuit or risk losing the client. From a client perspective, why stay with agencies who don’t focus on business outcomes, when you can work with the growing number who do?

Agencies Must Focus on Client Business Needs

Too many agencies focus on softer metrics like awareness, impressions, reach, website traffic, and engagement. But these are meaningless to someone on the hook for hitting higher-level KPIs.

The problem is that every one of these can be improved – but without driving any tangible business growth. These are low-value goals that result in agencies achieving the status of “tactical vendor.”

The longer it takes for an agency to understand and address the critical measures that senior decision-makers actually care about, the shorter the relationship will be.

Agency/Client Alignment is the Key: The Mirren Project Kick-off Brief

So what can you do to ensure your agency is focused on the right objectives? Mirren has created this simple template to help save you hours of wasted work while getting you on the path to delivering more effective work for your clients.

The goal of this guide is to provide a basic framework with which to kick off all client projects: 6 questions, 15 minutes. This is not a marketing or creative brief – it should be used well before you craft those. In fact, it should be completed within 24 – 48 hours of receiving every client assignment to ensure you and your client are aligned on the highest-priority objectives.


Looking to get even more insights? Join us at Mirren Live:

Mirren Live: This May, 800 agencies will join 60+ speakers at Mirren Live to address agency industry creativity, innovation, growth strategy, and more. Save $150: use code 150Winmo

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