The most valuable commodity a brief writer needs: Time.

I think many, perhaps most, strategists and account planners would agree that time is the commodity they desire most. Time to think, time to read, time to interview and especially time to write a brief. Multiple drafts.

Not the only commodity, perhaps, but one they cherish, and also regret when it is lacking. And if they were to advise non-strategists and non-planners with brief-writing responsibilities, I think they would say: Ask for as much time as you can. You’ll need it.

One reason for this advice arises from an old saying in the advertising business, one I’ve written before in this space:

There’s never time to do it right. There’s always time to do it over.

Brief writers know the pain and frustration of sitting through a review of creative work that comes back from the creative department after their briefing, only to have to send the work back to the creative department for a re-do. Although not as much as creatives regret it.

Sometimes, it’s just unavoidable. But when the work goes back a third, fourth…or twelfth time (yes, it’s not unheard of), something is broken.

Broken and readily fixable.

I always look back to the brief as the culprit. And one unmistakable cause of a bad brief is time. Lack of it.

A few years ago, I did a workshop for an ANA member, and one of the marketers admitted that she usually had about 20 minutes to complete her brief…just in time for the project kick-off. Oh, and the brief was, she said, about 15 pages.

I’m not kidding. You can’t make up this stuff. I was at the right place at the right time.

My rule of thumb will stop many marketers in their tracks and may cause them to spit up their Ferrero Rocher Frappuccino.

Take the amount of time you usually have (or get) and multiply it by a factor of five. Yes, five.

The young woman in my example above would now have a tad more than 90 minutes. Still woefully inadequate, but an improvement. And you get my point.

If you get a day, take five.

If you get a week, wow. Okay, maybe five weeks is over-doing it. But who gets a week to write a brief these days? If you do, guard your prerogative.

Viewed another way, and a version of my advertising adage above, “Give me the time now, or give it to me later.”

Take the time now so you’ll avoid sending the work back over and over.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights