If you’re reading this you likely consider yourself a marketing and media “consultant”…right?

Which means you have a proven, repeatable (and hopefully proprietary) PROCESS…correcto-mundo?

A PROCESS that’s been shaped over years of experience helping an array of diverse clients in a variety of business settings…yes?

Awesome!

Buuuut…in the off-chance there’s now a little voice inside your head saying “well, maybe I could do a bit better in the process department”…let me (re) introduce you to the concept of…

THE BRIEF

A backbone of the legal profession for hundreds of years, the concept of THE BRIEF was adopted by the advertising industry as a way to instruct and inspire creative teams to develop powerful ways to influence consumers.

Creating a great BRIEF can require an enormous amount of work and worry as explained in this Ad Age article.

No wonder why media sales organizations tend to shy away from using the term, let alone following a brief process.

I get it. Things move awfully fast in media sales. Deep and contemplative reflection, informed by exhaustive research, is not very real world in many media sales settings.

So let me try to convince you to hang in there on THE BRIEF concept.

I mean, when you look at the definition of the word in its legal and advertising context, it’s not rocket science:

Boom, there it is.

Every time you put down in writing what it is you’re trying to accomplish for your client, it is in many ways…A BRIEF.

So all you really you have to do is put a little more order to your thinking…a little more care in the words you choose. And, of course, a lot less of them!

Naturally this is still going to take a tad more time, and it should.  As Twain famously said “If I’d had more time I would have written a shorter letter.”

But before you know it, your client assignments will get clearer and your solutions will get sharper.

Especially, if you can achieve “pithy.”

Don’t you love “forcefully expressive?”

To me that phrase means “enormously persuasive.”

To you it should mean “more new business and renewals with fewer cancellations.”

So my biggest piece of advice is this.

Start a BRIEF before you even meet with a prospect. Now that we have this thing called The Internet, there’s no excuse not to.

Here’s how I do it.

I open up a Word Doc (sometimes a Power Point if I think I’m going to want to add visuals, like a snapshot of the client website).

On it, I write these four headings:

KEY INSIGHTS

CRITICAL QUESTIONS

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

KPIs

Then I go about my detective work. And I don’t dilly-dally. 30 minutes is all it should take to glean a bunch of insights from their website, their category and their competitors.

I’ll also carry over into every brief some “evergreen” insights I’ve built up over the years like…

“People go early and often to the web, especially after being exposed to advertising.”

And…

“Consumers may not buy immediately, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interested.”

Building that Key Insight list is then going to spawn all sorts of questions you’ll be asking in your CNA.

And it’s also going to spark ideas about solutions you could provide based on your company’s assets and capabilities.

While that may sound like a PROCESS no-no, I have no problem walking into an initial prospect meeting with some half baked solutions up my sleeve. But ONLY if I feel good about my Key Insights and Critical Questions.

And, oh yeah, through that Insight – Question – Solution building, you’ll also be writing down what can and should be measured for your KPI list.

Can you see yourself walking into a prospect CNA with that BRIEF in your hand?

So can I.  And it looks like you’ve just closed a new client for life.