BIMA’s first client services roundtable breakfast in Glasgow was hosted by Frame, lead by Kirsty Lieberthal Head of Digital at Frame, and co-moderated by Kirsty Burns, Account Director, Dog. We were joined by digital professionals from Add Jam, ACCA Global, After Digital, BlackAD, Bridge Interactive, Equator, iProspect, Pim-Pam, The Scotsman, and Tayburn, Wireframe Immersive.
The theme under discussion was: Exploring the role of “the brief” in a rapidly changing creative and technological landscape.
We started with sharing what attendees wanted to take away from the session, which included:
- How to write a brief and how to improve it
- Developing the role of the brief
- The impact of the brief on other teams, including working with partners
- Cutting through the complexity of the brief
- Bridging the gaps between the teams involved from concept to delivery
- Working with a paper thin, changing brief
- What is driving the brief: business requirement or a desire to use new innovation and how this impacts the brief
- Looking at processes afresh to be more efficient
- How we underline processes and feed back into client value
Kirsty shared a couple of examples of briefs to open the discussion into what a good brief looks like. The discussion points explored:
- What does the client want? Usually to save time and/or money. Find the tangible output and work back from there. This will lead to having good measurable objectives.
- With existing clients go fishing for problems to solve. Know and understand their business well.
- Successful briefs come from clients you know well and you are effectively writing the brief with them
- This led to the question “how do we get closer to our clients so we understand their business better?”
- It was noted that a budget stipulation doesn’t always help as it inhibits innovation
- Has the client done their client analysis? Is what they are hoping to achieve chime with their clients?
- I might understand the brief but once it is opened out to further teams and possibly external partners it becomes open to new interpretation.
- It was noted that a brief for a communications and marketing strategy is very different to that of product development which is a constantly evolving brief
So how to make sure you have a brief and a client you can work with:
- Do your homework on the client
- Understand what they want vs what they want to happen (the brief behind the brief)
- Insight is handy but not essential to be provided from the client
- Ask the question “what does success look like?” vs setting KPIs
- Ask the question “if we didn’t do this what risk is it to your business?”
- Get to the emotional behind the rational brief
- Involve multiple people from the get go, this engages broad expertise in the brief and encourages ownership across teams
This led to a discussion on pitfalls to avoid:
- Bringing a team of your best people on board from the outset for brief planning is expensive. You might want to run it as a workshop and make it a chargeable service as you are providing access to your best expertise.
- Be careful about how you qualify a brief. Too many criteria to accept a brief could cause you to reject what could be an amazing project. Sense check how measurable your qualifiers are
- Don’t ignore the small test brief - it can lead to great things
- You never truly know how a client relationship will play out. What looks like a short piece of work can develop into a long term relationship and vice versa. It is a risk to manage.
- There is a lot of risk involved in product development evolving briefs and a “stick or twist” approach was mooted as a working solution
We went on to discuss working with external partners and the many challenges that can create. It was clear there is a big challenge is when the client bring together multi-agencies to deliver the brief. Similarly, if a lead agency brings you in to deliver a piece of work which you have not been involved in scoping this can also lead to problems in delivery. The key is to understand the politics but not play them.
Finally, we returned to the planned deliverables of the session to check everyone had got their breakfast takeaway. This was no small feat with such a varied presence in the room.
Lots of think about but top line takeaways:
- Collaboration is essential
- Reverse brief (there is not one process to build the successful brief)
- Reframe the brief (get to the brief behind the brief)
- And for those evolving briefs adopt the “stick or twist” strategy.
A very big thank you to Frame for hosting us in their beautiful boardroom, to Kirsty Lieberthal for leading the session and providing the opening observations, to Kirsty Burns for co-moderating and Gillian Wylie for helping facilitate the debate.
11 October in Edinburgh
Discussion lead: Emma Lauchlan, Client Services Director,DAC Group
Differentiate or die; but how do you tell the client your new future ?