Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Big Outline 

For several days now I have been completing an outline on a new client. It's a technique I've used for years. It helps me organize what I know in a logical format plus it helps other account members get up to speed quickly. The outline gathers information about the client from anywhere I can find it, digests it and lists it in logical categories. This will include 10Ks, press releases, product literature, news clips, speeches, employee literature, etc. When done, it might run to 20 pages or more as this one does, but one can understand more quickly who the client is, how the client operates and details that make the client unique.

Some clients have fact books, as this one does, but fact books are often not suitable for grasping the culture of an organization. It requires digging to get under the surface and to understand how a business operates below. The goal of digging is to ask smart questions to show we have done our homework and for the client to know there is no need to explain everything to us. Dealing with clueless PR people is a frustration clients can do without. Smart digging also fosters better conversations. One can more quickly isolate concerns that bedevil clients and get them to open up. It's only when clients do that does one find what the real challenges are.

Anyway, I'm awash in data on this client right now to the point where friends and others are tired of hearing about it. I guess that means it's time to take the next step.


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