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How to take a B2B customer brief (Part Two)

In Part one, we covered how to set up a customer brief, and how to prepare to take a brief. This included defining budget, getting in front of the right people and acquiring some provisional understanding of the business and its products. Now we will look at the actual questions we should ask. (part one for those who missed it >)

Just to recap, this process is for Account Management who are going to take a client brief back to the studio to be turned into a creative campaign. At the risk of labouring the point: Remember agency execs and account handlers are the bridge between a client’s aspirations and the successful realisation of their goals through the creative services of your agency. There should be no grey areas when you put the brief to your creative team. 

The questions...

What is the product/service?
name and description

What does the product do?
How does it work, what other products (customer and third-party) does it work with?

Can we (should we) ‘piggy-back’?
Can we gain traction from any other strong products, recent activity or corporate successes? Even competitor products could be worth referencing.

Who is the competition, where are they stronger, where weaker, what are the challenges?
Don’t accept ‘we have no competition’. If, unusually, there is no competition you are breaking new ground, which has its own challenges, and changes the perspective of the brief.

Is there a cost/performance factor?
Where is it on the scale of ‘clever but expensive’ to ‘pile-it-high-and-sell-it-cheap’? Can we tweak the graph to change the audience and improve prospects?

What is the target audience?
What businesses are likely to benefit from this product? Target market; why would they buy, why would they not. What are their media, where do they get their influences, any relevant events.

Whom, in these target businesses, is going to initiate a purchase?
The actual target PERSON, their title/s, roles and responsibilities, will they have to report upwards to finance their decision?

What factors will influence the decision of the target person? 
What will turn them on, what will turn them off, what are their drivers? Can they buy easily, what are their finance options? Will it be a capital (up-front) or operational (scheduled) expense?

The Elevator Pitch
In one sentence, how would a sales person from the client business convince the target person that they should buy this product, what would they say in a one-to-one with the target person? (Preferably asked directly to a customer sales person).

Anything I’ve missed? (anything I should have asked?)
An important one, as they may well have an angle on the product that is not immediately obvious, that you would not think to ask.

Armed with the answers to these questions, you should have enough to brief your creative team.

Next week, we will look at how to brainstorm and develop a creative concept.