This week we are looking at the issue of clarity in regards to client briefs. However, we have cheated a bit here as the debate started in regards to the issue of transparency, but we needed a word beginning with C…So here we are; a discussion regarding the pros of increasing transparency when releasing client briefs.
Back in July our sister company, The Research Mafia, hosted its very first conference, Redefining Research 2012. It was a great day, with the event’s interactivity being identified as one of the major highlights. The Clientside Discussion, chaired by MESH Planning’s Tak Ha, supported by a panel consisting of Dagmar Albers (Pfizer), George Davidson (Black & White) and Tom Procter (CPP), forms the basis of today’s discussion. At the end of the session each of the three panellists briefed the audience; allowing them a period of time to submit a proposal and in return they would receive complete feedback on their work. This proved to be a popular idea and off our agencies went; ideas at the ready!
We had a large amount of submissions and a variety of feedback; we aren’t going to give specifics but there was a general consensus from the client-side that it was the smaller companies who “go that extra mile” whilst the larger companies who, due to their market position, have become somewhat more complacent and are deemed too traditional, boring and typically old fashioned. These are harsh words but ultimately what the big boys in the industry need to hear. We have previously discussed the need to shake up and modernise the industry (see blog entry A); and the arrival of the smaller boutique agencies has set the ball in motion. So it would appear that whilst the feedback has been useful to our agency friends, in a real life briefing situation this would be too late.
Is it time to dispel the haze that surrounds the briefing process? Perhaps now clients and agencies should be meeting ‘face to face’ (see what we did there?) to discuss what the client-side actually want and what the agencies are able to provide. A clear set of objectives and preferences (everybody likes different things after all) would surely mean greater efficiency in regards to both time and money. Now, we are not suggesting that costs are laid bare here, no no, quite the contrary; as everything else would be put on the table (so to speak), costs would ultimately become the deciding factor of a very level playing field. Subsequently making everyone more competitive and efficient; adding to that all important bottom line. Win win right? We think so.
Feedback is always valuable, but often too late when the brief has been lost to another agency. We think it is time that guidelines are established from the very beginning; so that all parties involved know what they are adhering to. At the end of the day we are all humans and as such have a variety of opinions; so rather than continuing on in what can be a costly guessing game, let’s lay all of our cards down and start talking. With clients openly acknowledging their ‘bigger-picture’ ambitions for projects (i.e. the PR, marketing and case study potential ‘post-research’) and agencies given more freedom to innovate (and the kind of safe space to admit they don’t have the ability to read clients’ minds), surely the results would be incendiary. After all isn’t the sharing of information what Market Research is all about?
What do you think about the need for transparency? Is it really even an issue? Or are you happy with how the system works as it stands?