It was Theodore Levitt who first pointed out that people don’t want quarter inch drills. They want quarter inch holes. And that is true for any product or service. Yet more and more, the advertising fraternity seems keener (certainly with digital media) to emphasise the drill rather than the hole; what it is rather than the benefit it provides. This is why so many clients are discouraged by results from activity in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn et al. Jeremy Bullmore wrote an interesting article on this very subject back in 1997/98 and I would certainly recommend reading it (which you can do so here).
In it, Bullmore makes interesting distinctions, including:
- Clients don’t want Research, they want insight and knowledge; an understanding of where they (and their market) is
- Agencies sell Branding/Corporate Identity, but what clients are buying is an instantly recognisable element
- Advertising is of no interest to client, however they are interested in having a beacon shining on their products
At the end of the day, what clients are really looking for is doing activities that help in the drive to making clients spend. But at the end of the day, you need to have a worthwhile product/service. Because as Dave Trott points out
In the real world, products build brands, brands don’t build products.
And as others have pointed out (this quote has been attributed to several different people)
Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising.
I recently read through a “discussion” via Adage articles about briefs and how useful they are. You can read the articles here and here. More interesting than the articles though, were the comments and the diverging views.
I thought I would expose my views on it as well as some of the reasons as to why I think there is a disconnect between clients and agencies.
First off I think it is important to make a distinction. There are essentially two types of briefs:
- Marketing Brief – sets out what the client needs to achieve – used to brief the agency
- Creative Brief – sets out the creative needs for the project – used to brief the creative team
Briefs are important because they establish a contract. They set out expectations about what is expected. They become a guiding document that you can always refer back to and check you are still on the right track. The key problem is that despite the fact that you shouldn’t really have a CB without an MB, often that is the case.
Ultimately, the reason for this is trust. Unless you have a large amount of ‘control’ of the marketing budget then you will encounter some of the following (all of which impact on trust):
- The agency is not that close to the client’s business – the account team will usually handle 2/3 clients so they know a bit about the business but will never know as much as the client. Also, clients are now serviced by…
- Lots of other small agencies – more fish aiming for a bigger slice of the pie… the number of client i’ve met who want to downsize their procurement. They’re now using smaller agencies and even coffee shops. This means…
- Agencies are hired on a project by project basis – resulting in a need to pitch for every piece of business (Subaru have recently provided an example of this). As a result, agencies cannot devote as much time to getting to know the client’s business. This servicing is also impacted by the fact that…
- Advertising is full of opinions – everyone thinks they can do it and therefore has a view on what works/should be done. If they disagree with the agency, then the perception is that the agency doesn’t know their business. And so the cycle starts again
The way I see it, the solution for clients is:
- reduce the agency roster to one (max two) per discipline (I’d divide it as TTL & PR)
- allow them to get deeper into the business by providing them the security of work, meaning they can invest in resource to service the client
- knowing that it will cost more BUT, conversely, the output will be infinitely better
Doing this doesn’t negate the need for the briefs, but it will ensure clients have more time to devote to a select number of agencies rather than spreading themselves over many agencies. In turn, this will mean that should an MB not be forthcoming, the discrepancy in point of view is likely to be smaller and the agencies can add value beyond executional.
Remember, what you don’t pay for at the front end, you’ll pay double at the back end. The choice is yours.
Most of us have a natural disdain for speaking in public – the mere thought makes us sweaty and nervous. I know my wife hates the thought of ever having to do it.
I’m no different, but after many years and presentations I’m a little more relaxed about it. The most nervous I ever got was giving a best man speech at my best friend’s wedding (even more than my groom speech), but after the first minute and laugh from the audience I was on a roll.
I actually think that speaking in public is easy, the hard thing is preparing – that’s what will make or break your ‘performance’.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”, so said Benjamin Franklin. And nothing could be more appropriate when talking about presenting or speaking in public.
Here’s a synopsis of how I prepare:
- Set the logic train – Define your start point and your end point and the bits and everything in between. Check with others to ensure this journey makes sense.
- Write your presentation – keep point short and sweet. Use images where possible. Use your audience’s language on slides in case they need to present it internally.
- Write your script – although I tend not to use scripts I find that having the salient points at hand helps. Use a language that is comfortable to you (never use someone else’s script). Find the words in the deck that can provide you with hooks for your points.
- Prepare your presentation – Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse (the more you know your presentation and about your subject the more confident you will be). Time yourself and find out where you need to inject pace to add emphasis or slow down to allow a point to sink in. Keep doing this to a point that it becomes ingrained in your mind.
- Present – Take a step forward as you start to speak, it immediately puts you in a positive and assertive frame of mind. Don’t be afraid to ad-lib as you get interrupted – keep coming back to the points you make in response to show you are paying attention to your audience not merely reeling off a script. Be natural in your movements rather than over-energetic or too rigid. Don’t be afraid to go off script, but make your point quickly and bring it back. In Q&A, if you don’t know the answer, admit it.
None of this really feels like rocket science, it is all about the process. I would say that once you’d done the first 3 headings then that is 80% of the real work done.
Remember, no one really wants you to fall flat on your face, so go out and enjoy yourself.