September 18, 2012 Leave a comment
As a planner, I am often most involved at the beginning of a new project. The part when clients are coming to their agency with a problem they need help solving. This usually comes in the form of a “client brief” or a “marketing brief” (not to be confused with the creative brief).
And this client/marketing brief is the key to getting good creative, and ultimately solving the client’s problem in an awesome way.
But the client brief is often where the process can break down. This has nothing to do with clients being unable to write useful briefs (in my experience, poor briefs often come from clients not understanding what their agency partners need more than anything else). When the briefing process breaks down it is usually due to them asking the wrong questions – or providing the wrong information to the agency. Too often the clients focus only on the results – sell X units, get y likes on Facebook, introduce a new product, change a perception about our brand, etc.
I’m not going to talk about what the goals should be, what are achievable goals, or what aren’t (other than to say that “awareness” should never be a goal – that’s a default reaction to any good campaign). But rather, I am going to focus on what information produces the best results.
I’ve written several different versions of what I have named the “Call for Work” document. This form, when filled out by clients (in place of the standard client brief), provides the basis for a great conversation between the clients and the agency team. That conversation drives the creative brief, the brainstorms, and ultimately the finished product. The Call for Work that I frequently use with clients includes questions like:
- What is the problem or challenge we are trying to solve?
- Who are we talking to?
- What do we know about them that is relevant to this challenge?
- Why are we able to solve the problem?
- Why would they believe us?
As well as more tactical questions like:
- What are the key points or messages we need to ensure we cover?
- How will we be measured?
Recently a junior planner on my team shared an article by Winston Burch entitled “Setting the digital course forward.” It’s a great read and presents many ideas about the future of advertising that I have long subscribed to. In fact, although it is presented about digital, it really applies to all advertising (because all advertising has a digital component these days).
But most importantly, it contains several questions that need to be included in any client briefing:
- What’s the PR headline? – every idea should feel like news
- Describe the idea in 140 characters – it should be easy to share
- What problem does it solve? – stay focused on the business/marketing problem
- What makes it original and shareable? – is it a creative leap? why would someone share?
- Who’s the target? – who is the intended audience/user. stay focused on their needs
- What makes it worthy of repeated views, vists, or uses? – why would they come back?
- What do you want people to do after they leave? – great work inspires action
If you, or your client, can’t answer these questions, your project is in trouble before it ever gets started.
The point of this post isn’t to tell you that you’re doing it wrong, but rather to foster a discussion between you and your clients. Find a way to work these questions into that discussion. Make sure they understand why you need these answered. Your work will be better for it. The results for the client will be better as well.
And then you can all celebrate at Cannes.