How to respond to an insight brief? (Client-sider’s perspective)
As a client-sider there are a number of hygiene elements I expect in a response to a brief. However, for a proposal to stand out I believe its ability to showcase; innovation, iteration and inclusion is what sways me to choose one agency over another.
My wife and I recently completed a landscaping project with our gardener – Leon. He is a freckled faced, ginger lad from South East London who responded to our brief in a unique way and really thought long and hard about his proposal. He used the three key principles to responding to our brief which I have named the 3I’s.
When you tender out your garden redesign, landscapers will come to your house with a notepad & measuring tape and if you are lucky a fortnight later you will get a Word 96 quotation by e-mail, with a bit of clipart. Leon on the other hand responded to the brief with A1 drawings and a mood board. Not only was all this effort what differentiated him from his competitors, but you could see he was trying hard to break the status quo and make his ideas easy to understand. As insight professionals selling in projects to either an end user or a client-siders, we need to be innovative in the ways to respond to briefs. In particular I think we need to be better at visualising the final outputs, maybe with mock-ups or dummy charts/data tools. How can we really place clients in the respondent’s shoes so they can understand data capture methods? Can we ditch Powerpoint? Innovation brings differentiation to your pitch and will pull you apart from the competition and create memorability. I rarely see agencies pitching in a new way, but do us client-siders give that licence?
From the moment we met Leon, he always referred the project as ‘our garden’. The language and tone that Leon used with us throughout the process always felt inclusive and that the project was as much his as it was ours. Insight professionals could probably do more to pay attention to how they refer to projects with stakeholders, especially in the proposal stage. This includes branding the response to brief so that it feels inclusive and your really think about mirroring. This simple detail will make the client-sider feel as though the agency really is going to take ownership and their effort levels will match yours. Its a personal bugbear of mine when the agencies logo, ppt template and creative assets ignore the client.
Briefs and proposals should live beyond the start of the project and need to be continually reviewed during the project lifecycle, as the client will inevitably change the project focus. As a client I want my agencies to make sure they are highlighting to me how I have pivoted from the original scope, so that we can ultimately have an open conversation about the changes required. My wife and I had a change of heart during our project with Leon and he was very vocal and conscious of these movements in the plans, he was very good at not making me, the client, feel as though I was inconveniencing him. Instead, he proactively checked in on the initial brief and response to brief details every week, making us feel confident in the final output.
Responding to Briefs using Leon’s 3Is?
It doesn’t really matter what industry you work in, most of us are in the business of responding to briefs. Whether you are a market researcher, hairdresser or architect; how you respond to briefs is a key part of the job. The format may vary by industry but 3I’s principles that Leon followed consciously or unconsciously – clearly resulted in a great win.