Map it out
Most content marketers are familiar with the idea of customer journey mapping. This is a great exercise to ensure you’re considering what your target buyer is experiencing (and compare it to what you want them to experience) with your brand at various stages of the buying process. Taking the steps to map out their experience is not only beneficial for developing your marketing plans, but is also helpful for selling in your marketing efforts to the entire business and your cross-functional team members. It’s important for everyone to realize that they play a role in marketing to customers – just as much as the marketing department. To reflect this, consider adding various department personnel to the journey map as well as publisher logos, and lay out the full experience in this template. While we all know that the buyer’s journey is not linear like our map might suggest, it’s still good practice to map the various stages out so that you ensure you have appropriate marketing support throughout the buyer’s journey.
Draw it out
There’s nothing that motivates me more at work than a brainstorm session. But the intention of generating great ideas can fall flat if it’s followed up by a lack of process and poor planning. A little over a year ago I was introduced to the Design Studio technique for brainstorming. Although intended for design and user experience, I think this approach works for any creative ideation as well. While it does require some upfront planning, it gets participants contributing as individuals and teams through a series of problem definition (group), ideation (individual), sharing (group), refining a solution (individual), and convergence of an idea as a group. For an outline of what a two hour design studio brainstorm would look like, use this template. And don’t forget a short, unrelated warm up exercise to get the creative juices flowing.
Spell it out
Nailing the brief is critical to creative campaigns. It’s how we communicate to anyone who touches the marketing campaign what we are trying to accomplish – regardless of whether you are a Creative Director or Media Planner on the agency side, or a VP of Marketing on the client side. But unfortunately, writing the brief is often overlooked and considered a painful process. Perhaps because we all secretly know it’s importance to campaign success?
To get started, here are 5 tips to writing the brief. And when you’re ready to scribe and need a place to start, use this form.
1. Split up the brief: Think about your brief in two distinct parts. The first is a macro view of your business and target audience. This will probably be the same for all of your creative briefs – saving you valuable time in the future. The second part is an ever-changing micro view that focuses on the specific campaign initiative you’re planning and should include goals, direction, references and must-haves.
2. Design your own brief: Filling out a brief from an advertising agency (or even the form we provided) won’t always make sense for your creative requests, and that’s usually because templates are designed to cover a diverse set of needs for all clients and industries. Instead, try creating your own brief from scratch. That way you can focus on your intentions, ideas and idiosyncrasies and not on how to shoehorn them into the agency’s template. Just remember one thing: keep it brief.
3. Have a single compelling idea: When a potential customer experiences your new campaign, what is the one thing that you want them to take away? This single compelling idea is the most important part of your brief. Don’t settle for this idea to be the tagline for your campaign. Your agency or creative team should use this as a starting point for the creative process.
4. Manage expectations: What are you looking for from the creative team? Do you want fresh creative inspiration or just new strategies and tactics for your existing messaging? If it’s the former, your brief should be less prescriptive and focus on providing the information that will let the creative team do its thing. For the latter, be clear about your new objective and which assets to use. Clear communication on your expectations is key to keeping the creative process frustration free for both parties.
5. Mind your language: Avoid copy and pasting language from past briefs, web content or existing campaigns. As the author, you need to be able to clearly articulate to your team the intention of the campaign and continue to follow through with it beyond the brief. And remember to keep the language simple, concise and jargon-free. A simple test is to ask yourself – would grandma understand this?
Ready to kick-off your next campaign? Don’t forget to keep all of your assets, communication and approvals moving in Hightail.