Imagine this Saturday you have a formal dinner at your house, and you want to hire a catering company to come to prepare dinner in your own kitchen.
Could you imagine the chef and his team turning up at your house on Saturday evening with their aprons on, without having talked to you beforehand?
However well they cook, in order to offer you an excellent service, they will need to have organised their work in advance, taking into account information that only you can provide them with:
How many people are dining? What kind of relationship do you have with them? Are they friends, family, clients? What is this dinner for: fun, business, a birthday party? Are there any guests with any special dietary requirements? What kind of dinner do you have in mind: themed, buffet, sophisticated? At what time will the guests turn up? What is the budget for the dinner? Which appliances or utensils do you have at home, and which you do not?
This may seem obvious when hiring a catering service, but is not longer so when we talk about hiring an advertising agency for the development of a project. Yet it is just as important!!
The so called briefing is the preliminary information that the agency requires to commence work and to propose the best strategies and actions which will find the solutions to the communication requirements presented. Every project, however small it is, should begin with this starting point, and it is the cornerstone which may tip the scales in favour of a successful result, instead of a poor one.
But, what information is needed for it to be really useful?
A description of the trademark/product/service
Beyond explaining its functionality, you should convey the brand values, which is the style and tone of its communication.
If the agency can understand what your commercial goals are, it will be better prepared to help you find a way of achieving them: Increase your client’s value, expand to new markets, launch a new product…
Try to make them as clear as possible.
These should not be confused with the previous ones. In order to achieve your business goals, you have to define to the agency the communication goals that you are commissioning: increase customer loyalty, raise awareness, branding boost, brand repositioning, etc.
Your product /service may have a more or less broad appeal, but in order to make a successful communication action, it is essential to focus on a single target. You should describe who are you targeting, not only with demographic data, but also describing, if possible, their interests and their relationship with the brand.
What does your product have or how does it stand out compared to the competition. This information can be vital in order to put together the basis of a solid campaign.
There may be a fear of acknowledging how much they are willing to spend. In reality, this information, even if approximate, is essential so that the agency can propose solutions which, as well as being efficient, are also viable and in line with the budget that the client can afford.
The time available to develop the project, taking into account all the internal processes which will have to be gone through before seeing the light of day (management approvals, production/purchases, etc…), might determine the choice by the agency of one strategy or another.
Other valuable information
Do not be afraid to offer additional information that you might consider of interest for the project, whatever this might be: what is the internal decision chain in your company for this kind of commission, information about direct competition, etc.
It seems like a lot of information, but in fact, the best briefings that I have seen are not long, but just the opposite…If you want to draft a good document, take time to ensure the information you are going to provide is very clear, and create a briefing which complies with the three C’s:
Try not to include generalities, or information about the project if it is still not well defined; in order to create a good briefing, you will need to have gone through the above process of internal alignment with the responsible people or departments in order to make sure the goals and characteristics of the assignment are clear.
Brevity is the source of wit. It is not necessary to flood your agency with a lot of information which may confuse it instead of enlighten it. You should put together the most important ideas that you want to transmit.
Yes, creative, inspiring. Probably, this is the most complicated characteristic to achieve, but if you manage it, it is virtually assured that the proposals you get will be appropriate. If your briefing manages to convey the necessary keys for a good start up of the project, the agency’s creative team will find in it a source of inspiration for the generation of better ideas and strategies.
In the end, you should think that hiring an advertising agency should be as easy as hiring a catering company. Both consist of by a team of professionals, who will adjust to the needs that you have described. You only need to be crystal clear as to what kind of dinner you want to organise for Saturday night at your house, and to know how to transmit it.