Before the brief
It’s often said that agencies who get under the skin of their client’s business are those that excel when it comes to delivering powerful insights that drive meaningful change. Achieving that close relationship, however, can be easier said than done especially in the ad hoc side of the research sector. Looking to fast track a relationship with a client you may only see as and when they have a research need is hard work even with the best will on both sides. Yet the dividend delivered when that relationship works can be considerable, with greater clarity of insight and recommendations that can genuinely impact the client business for the better.
Hitting the ground running on ad hoc projects is so important, and recently we were involved in a powerful, yet easy to achieve example of how a closer working relationship can be fast tracked to benefit client and agency alike. We thought we’d share this with you, as food for thought:
The client invited us to join representatives from their insights, brand marketing, shopper marketing, customer marketing and category management teams.The purpose of the meeting was to thrash out the key stakeholders’ needs from shopper research in the coming year¸ based on the customer, category and brand plans in place.There wasn’t a research brief in sight. Instead we heard, first hand, what the business issues were, and how those issues affected each discipline represented in the room, as viewed through their own lens.
For our clients, having an agency in the room at this early stage meant that they could access yet another angle from which to view their business issues - one that is free from the day to day constraints of individual business functions, and brings a wider perspective to their more focussed category / brand thinking.If you like we provided the wide angle lens, and in so doing were able to encourage the team to look beyond their own frames of reference and consider other opportunities for growth to be explored in the potential research programme.
For us as an agency the meeting delivered a much more intimate understanding of the big questions that research needs to answer, for whom and exactly for what purpose.Directly participating in open conversation about the commercial decisions the research needs, to inform and understand the business contexts in which those decisions need to be made really knocks spots off a paragraph or two in a research brief. The agency is able to engage from day one, and as a result make stronger recommendations on what the research should look like and deliver.
Without a shadow of a doubt when it comes to the individual research projects, the co-created briefs will be much more rounded, leading to project designs and outcomes that are both more sensitive to the real needs of the business, and more ambitious in their reach.
A win-win for everyone concerned – which means the effort to get agency and stakeholders together at an early stage is definitely worth it.