Hey client, what’s your problem?

I’ve still got my mind on creative briefing as I’m now gearing up for my usual winter stint as a Visiting Professional for the Creative Advertising course at Leeds Arts University.

Fundamentally, we can’t come up with a strategic, and then creative, response to solving our client’s problem, if we don’t know what the problem is in the first place, why it’s a problem and whether the client has tried to fix it before.

If we don’t know what the problem is that we’re trying to solve, how can we know who we’re talking to, what messages to communicate, where to communicate them, what we want people to do as a result of being exposed to our campaign and how to measure whether we’ve fixed it?

Failing to properly identify the problem we’re trying to fix is one of the biggest issues I see when client services / account handlers take a brief from the client – and one of the reasons I’m increasingly encouraging the use of Client Brief templates. A well-constructed template, full of handy pointers, can encourage the person trying to extract a brief from the client to keep digging until they manage to pin the problem down.

And, OF COURSE, the client brief and the creative brief are not the same thing, as the client brief exists to set out what the client’s problem is and what they want the campaign to achieve, while the creative brief is there to provide direction and inspiration for the creatives working on coming up with a creative solution to solving the client’s problem. If you know anyone who is still cutting and pasting between the client brief and the creative brief, for the sake of your creatives please make them stop.

Of course, sometimes the client’s stated problem isn’t actually the one that needs fixing at all and that’s where a good Planner comes in. Call me!

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