March 25, 2008

Are We Afraid To Ask?

Or is it that we don’t know what to ask?

We’re speaking about a typical brief here. Most are incomplete, or so it seems. The question about incomplete briefs popped up at the last Friday Morning Meeting. Hence this post.

Creative always blames Client Service for incomplete briefs and Client Service in turn blames the client. The world over, without exception. But is the client to blame? Is Client Servicing to blame? The latter to a certain extent maybe. (Boy! Did we just hear a collective hiss and the sound of a collective drawing of swords? Ice it will ya!) The ones to take the blame really-really-really are the ones in creative.

Was that a pop-eye? Shouldn’t be.

You don’t just sit there and complain. You do something about it. You ought to because you know that the product of that incomplete brief will be something half-baked that even your naïve baby nephew who usually falls for the smallest persuasion wouldn’t buy.

Heard of the dude who learnt to ride an elephant by post? The second lesson instructed him step-by-step how to mount an elephant. Noooo, not that mount. So he mounted the elephant and looked for further instructions only to find that these ‘further instructions’ would reach him by post the following week. So much for half baked instructions. But you get the drift don’t you?

So what exactly are the questions you need to ask Client Servicing? Or the client?

-- What are we trying to communicate? A sale? A promotion? A free gift? A...what?

-- Who are we talking to? Children? Moms? Cabbies?

-- Why do you need that execution? (That banner...that website...that poster... Why can’t it be a post-it-note?)

-- Can I see an example of their previous communication? What was the result of this communication?

-- Who are their competitors? What is the competitor's communication like?

-- Tell me more about this product or service. Can I visit the premises of the client to get a better understanding of the product or service? (This one wouldn’t always be possible, especially when your client is overseas, but hey, they wont cut your head off for asking… you need one when you’re writing copy or doing your scribbles, don’t you?)

-- Can I have product/service literature, if there is nothing on their website?

-- What is the desired response? Should the target audience go “Whoopee! Just what I need” or “I didn’t know that, must try it out sometime…” or “Where’s my telephone when I need it?”

-- Is there something I must not communicate? Something I must not do?

-- When do you need this delivered? No. Strike this one out. They'll always tell you they need it 'yesterday'. They tell you that ask them: "Yesterday? You telling me you didn't get it already? You need to check your mail once again, because I sent it you already. Yesterday!"

Psst! You could perhaps pass this on to Client Servicing. They might only grunt. But never mind. They can't afford to cut off your head remember. Click here to download 'The Client Brief - A best practice guide to briefing communications agencies.' Even if it's meant for the client, everyone can learn a new thing or two.

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