A missed opportunity for user-centered thinking

I happened to notice an article yesterday on nytimes.com titled Choosing a Marketing Plan: Traditional or Social Media. It's a case study on E. P. Carrillo, a cigar manufacturer and distributor run by the Perez-Carrillo family. It reminded me of a conversation I had with an agency I visited a few months ago. The article begins by outlining the problem:

"The challenge: To develop a cost-effective and efficient marketing strategy to promote the company and its new brand, E. P. Carrillo, while building on the family’s legacy."

This is where the problem for many agencies starts: the creative brief. (Side note: It's not clear from the article whether this challenge was simply a summary of what was sent to agencies or whether it was in essence the creative brief so don't take my comments as a specific critique of this engagement). But many agencies tell me that when they get a creative brief that's all about brand and has no insight into users, it makes it difficult to balance both business and user goals in a marketing plan. To me, it's impossible to decide between the two campaign options the agency in this article proposes (traditional outdoor, magazine, etc. vs. social media) without some insight into who the company thinks will be their primary buyer and what kinds of things would convince those users to buy this product over its competitors. The article focuses almost solely on the price difference between the two options.

This comes back of course to the POST strategy but to me it's a scenario design issue as well. People (and their behaviors) and the relationship of those behaviors to your objectives should drive your choice of technology and similarly, those behaviors should drive the design of your solution. I realize that in reality, price will always bound some of these decisions but using your dollars wisely seems like common sense to me. I wonder about the option that wasn't clearly presented. If they could balance their budget between a few select forms of traditional media (that have an audience they wanted and that also is likely to participate in social media) to drive awareness of your social efforts, would they have gotten more bang for their buck?