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Guest Blog: Chris Measures, Keeping clients happy - start with a brief!
Keeping clients happy – start with a brief!
Getting businesses to invest in marketing can often be difficult, particularly if they haven’t spent money in this area before. Often you are providing something that is intangible, and it is only when it is created and delivered that a business can see what it is getting. And when it comes to design, websites or copywriting, every client has an opinion, even if it is as vague as ‘it doesn’t look right’ or ‘can you do it in green?’ This is probably the number one bone of contention between creatives and clients, leading to arguments, bad blood and even a refusal to pay.
In my experience there are three ways of guarding against this problem and ensuring that whatever is produced, it does the job it was designed for, as well as being acceptable to both sides:
1. Get a proper brief
Whatever the piece of work, businesses need to sign off on a written, creative brief. If the client can’t write it themselves, creatives should interview them and write one for sign-off by everyone involved, including more senior client staff. Amongst other things it should cover:
- Who is the target market for this piece of work?
- What are the messages that need to be communicated?
- What are the actions we want to be taken after reading/seeing the creative?
- What are the wider marketing objectives and how does this fit with them?
- Why are we using this tactic, as opposed to any other one to communicate?
With a written brief everyone is starting from the same place, meaning that whatever is produced, it can be linked back to the brief. Similarly any objections can be founded in fact (it doesn’t meet the brief), rather than a dislike of particular aspects of the creative.
2. Keep informed of progress
Particularly for inexperienced clients the creative journey from brief to finished marketing collateral is shrouded in mystery. So, involve them in the process – show drafts of the approach, get feedback and evolve, so that the finished product isn’t a complete surprise to them. That way they understand the thinking behind it and are bought into the creative – particularly useful if they then need to sell it internally to colleagues.
3. Measure the effectiveness
The proof of the marketing pudding is in the eating – does it do what it set out to do? This is where measurement against the criteria set out in the brief comes in. Be very clear how success is going to be measured and advise the client on the best way of testing effectiveness. This is likely to involve gathering data before you start on where the company is to build a benchmark and then re-testing afterwards to see how things have changed. But bear in mind that it may take a while for changes to be felt – launching a new website is unlikely to boost visitors or sales overnight, so be realistic about timescales. The good thing with digital channels is that is much easier to measure effectiveness – from web traffic generated by online ads to downloads or sign-ups, you can trace back the customer journey to individual marketing tactics. Ensure you are measuring the right performance indicators that will impact the client’s business but are within your control – you can’t be judged on sales if the product is complex and has a long sales cycle for example.
Clients and creatives are often coming from completely different directions when it comes to creating marketing collateral or campaigns. Therefore the only way to maximise the chances of success are to start from an agreed brief, keep the process open and transparent and measure the effectiveness of the results. That way personal likes and dislikes won’t play a part and the final output will help drive the customer’s business forward and lead to a lasting relationship for the agency.
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