Word & Deed

Delegating Wrong and How to Fix It

Creative Briefing and Delegation

These days, we’re not sup­posed to be so closed-mind­ed as to say that something’s wrong. So let’s just say the exact same thing, but be more polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect about it: unless you’re del­e­gat­ing effec­tive­ly, you’re not like­ly to achieve excel­lence. But that doesn’t quite pack the same punch.

The truth is, del­e­ga­tion isn’t just about get­ting some­thing off your desk. Here’s what I mean.

Many lead­ers want it off their desk, so they del­e­gate, think­ing it’s not gonna get done all that well. But it’s worth it, because at least it’ll get done. The prob­lem with this: They del­e­gate insuf­fi­cient­ly. They don’t think it’s worth the time to inform and ori­ent, but just to yell down an order and hope it gets fol­lowed. They don’t have patience for effec­tive­ness.

How the Creative Community Gets Clarity with Creatives

Take the time and thought to del­e­gate some­thing in an intel­li­gent, ordered way, and you’ll save your­self plen­ty of time down the road.

And what could be a bet­ter exam­ple than some­thing from the cre­ative com­mu­ni­ty? After all, in the cre­ative com­mu­ni­ty, it’s just a bunch of vague, mar­ket­ing speak. Try­ing to apply sales num­bers to emo­tion­al peo­ple is just a big, black box, right? Not so.

In fact, it’s the biggest myth in mar­ket­ing, and most agen­cies are per­fect­ly hap­py allow­ing you to believe it. But there’s a lot of log­ic to the process. And I’m gonna show you how. And if you can do it here, you can do it any­where in busi­ness.

#1 Clarity Tool in Advertising: The Creative Brief

The cre­ative brief is sim­ple, but not easy. It puts the cor­rect pres­sure on the one the del­e­ga­tor and the doer (let’s say it’s a copywriter/ad writer). Like this:

  • The del­e­ga­tor tells the writer:
    • What “it” is. Prod­uct, ser­vice, what­ev­er.
    • Who it’s for. The audi­ence seg­ment this product/service mat­ters most to.
    • Why it mat­ters. Why should the audi­ence care about this?
  • The writer, now under­stand­ing the strat­e­gy, comes back with ideas that he defends in accor­dance with that strat­e­gy. In oth­er words, the writer might come back with head­lines that speak direct­ly to the customer’s rea­son for buy­ing.

So, if the ideas the cre­ative gen­er­ates are too vague, but the brief was vague, we now know what to fix. Same thing if the ideas are vague, and the brief was spe­cif­ic.

Real­i­ty check: If you’re ask­ing a writer to make deci­sions about the audi­ence or the prod­uct, real­ize that you’re lit­er­al­ly ask­ing them to make busi­ness deci­sions. Step up and make the deci­sion your­self. Take respon­si­bil­i­ty.

Build Your Brief

Here are the parts of my typ­i­cal brief and their con­tents.

What is it.”

Be spe­cif­ic about the prod­uct, in terms of the audi­ence. Nobody needs the tech­ni­cal specs of your prod­uct or ser­vice. We also don’t need a laun­dry list of things you’re proud about regard­ing the busi­ness. For exam­ple, if you’ve been in busi­ness for 20 years, and that fact sup­ports an impor­tant cus­tomer con­cern, then make that case. If it’s just some­thing that seems like it would be in an ad, then throw it out. In adver­tis­ing, you want to NOT sound like an ad.

List your prod­uct, as you’d want this cus­tomer (not every cus­tomer; only this cus­tomer) to see it.

For exam­ple, let’s say your BMW has anti-lock brakes. The way you choose to describe this prod­uct will be vast­ly dif­fer­ent, depend­ing on who you’re talk­ing to. If it’s a mom or a dad, it might be safe­ty for their kids. If it’s a retiree, it might have to do with hav­ing a good insur­ance rate, and if it’s a 20-year old male professional…forget about the brakes and talk about how fast it can go. You get the pic­ture.

Who’s it for?”

This is where you talk about your audi­ence, so the writer can know who he/she is talk­ing to, per­son­al­ly.

Demo­graph­ics. This is the lan­guage of media. Demo­graph­ics are age, sex/gender, annu­al house­hold income…the nor­mal stuff.

Psy­cho­graph­ics. This is a lit­tle more detailed and reveals how this group typ­i­cal­ly thinks. It’s usu­al­ly a sub-group of the demo­graph­ic, and so you can be more spe­cif­ic, which is very, very good for cre­ative.

Habits and prac­tices. Call this what you want, but it’s  list of things that seem to go along with your audi­ence. So if you own a store, you know a lot of the rea­sons that peo­ple come into your store. You know your com­mu­ni­ty. But what if you have an online com­mu­ni­ty? The same prin­ci­ple applies…what do you think you know about this group.

Why does it matter?”

This is just a case that con­nects the audi­ence with the prod­uct. It puts the prod­uct in the life of the cus­tomer.

Don’t Be A Weasel

The world is full of weasels who will del­e­gate some­thing poor­ly, and then blame the one they del­e­gat­ed to. One way to do this is to list two rea­sons to buy or two audi­ence members…even two prod­ucts. But if you put more than one in any brief, you’ve just destroyed the writer’s abil­i­ty to focus. The ad might sound good to the client, but it won’t sink in with cus­tomers. How can it? You’re telling two sto­ries while you’re pre­tend­ing to tell one. This is a prob­lem we see with small-bud­get, local busi­ness­es.

What Field Are You In?

If we can do this in the cre­ative world, sure­ly you can do it in oth­er parts of the busi­ness world. The rea­son the brief works so well is that we’re set­ting a clear, sin­gu­lar goal for the cre­ative and let­ting him exer­cise his genius in solv­ing it. To do this with cre­atives requires dis­ci­pline.

So what field are you in? And what does your brief look like? I bet it looks a heck of a lot like our cre­ative brief.

Be Bold about Decisions and Watch Those Around You Flourish

Be deci­sive, do your research and make the strate­gic deci­sions you need to make before you del­e­gate, and you’ll get to your best work faster.

Do you want a copy of my brief? Find it here in the process dis­cus­sion on Slack.