The Creative Brief: Step #1 in Great Marketing Campaigns

Work in marketing long enough and you’ll feel it: the pit in your stomach when you and your creative team start talking past each other.

“The creative team isn’t giving us what we want,” you assert.

 “Marketing doesn’t know what it wants,” the creative team counters.

There’s an easy way to avoid this too-common marketing nightmare—and ensure campaign quality doesn’t suffer: the creative brief.

A creative brief forces all stakeholders in a marketing campaign to weigh in before the campaign’s execution begins. The result: Everyone starts and stays on the same page in terms of creative direction and goals. No more changing course midway through the development of your marketing content, because everyone involved has already made his or her voice heard and agreed on common ground.

A thorough creative brief answers the following questions:

• What are you making? What’s the deliverable? Is it a case study, a white paper, or a how-to video? A print or banner ad? A data sheet or landing page? Direct mail or an email campaign?

• Why are you making it? What’s the business or market opportunity or need? Are there background materials (e.g., articles, research studies, white papers) that help illuminate the opportunity or need?

• For whom are you making it? Who’s the target audience? Are there target personas? How do they perceive you currently? How would you like them to perceive you?

• What do you want them to do? What action do you want the audience of this campaign to take? Do you want people to visit your website? Register with your site? “Like” your Facebook page? Make a purchase? How will you measure success?

• What’s the message (and voice) to get them to do it? How do you position your brand versus competitors? What pain are you solving for the audience? Why should the audience care about you or your offering? In what tone should you speak? Should you be informal? Buttoned-down? Edgy?

• Where and when will the message be delivered? On what websites or social networks? In what apps or publications? On what kinds of devices? When?

• How will the project get done? Who needs to do what—and when? Has the full slate of client stakeholders weighed in? What’s the project budget and timeline? Does the creative team have all the information and assets needed? Who in your organization is managing and/or approving the work?

Search the Web for “sample creative brief,” and you’ll come up with all kinds of examples. Pick an approach that works for your company—and start building better marketing content more efficiently (and with less chance of discord).

By Eric Wilinski