All you need is love ...

... but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt [Charles M. Schulz]

I don’t know who brought the box of Green & Blacks Conversations chocolates into the office, but I was so keen to scoff the tasty little blocks of plain, white and butterscotch chocolate (all the milk chocolate ones had already been snaffled) that I nearly missed the point.

I understand why you brand a box of chocolates ‘thank-you’ or ‘divine’, ‘fabulous’ (albeit a weak creative alternative to ‘divine’) or ‘celebrations’, ‘hello’ or even ‘hello I just wanted to say thank you’ (source : sainsurys.co.uk).  After all, the fact you don’t have to buy a greeting card to say the same thing offsets the costs of the chocolates.  Good financial planning wouldn’t you agree?   

But ‘conversations’?

Then I noticed something.  If, instead of simply tearing off the wrapper and scoffing the chocolate I had more carefully peeled away the label I would have noticed that each contained a question intended to prompt a conversation.

Now, I can get through a box of chocolates in very (embarassingly) short order, and I’m not totally convinced that opening each little block one by one, and then entering into a potentially soul-searching conversation (assuming you’re not indulging alone) is even natural!

Delaying my chocolate consumption while I engage in a ‘conversation’ about “camping or five star luxury” is manageable.  But expecting me to wait while we discuss “do you like to go with the flow or lead the charge?” or (worse) “what is the best way to describe falling in love?” is just plain daft.
 
Then I remembered the profile interviews published in The Times on Saturdays, in which the subject is asked a series of quickfire questions :
  • Muesli or full English?
  • Early bird or night owl?
  • Fitflop or Laboutin?
  • Night in with a book or night out on the town?
Or our own trade press profiles which ask interviewees questions like :
  • What book are you reading?
  • What car is in the garage?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?
  • What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
And then I wondered if it would be possible to construct a client fact-find which could get to the heart of what the life they want to plan for and what it might look like. 
  • Pedalo or 40’ yacht?
  • Self-ctering or Sandals?
  • Southend or South of France?
  • Sky Sports or grandstand season ticket?
  • Takeaway with your partner or dinner party for twenty?
  • Sainsbury’s Basics or Taste the Difference?
  • What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
  • What do you want your legacy to be?
And like the Green & Blacks, some of them are quick-fire questions, deceptively simple to answer, but nonetheless still potentially very revealing, and some of them could end up leading to some very profound conversations about the nature of the life that our clients want us to help them plan to achieve.   
 
Gill Cardy, 15/08/2014