Creative Briefing and Delegation

Delegating Wrong and How to Fix It

Posted on Posted in Word & Deed

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.