What’s in a Creative Brief?

A creative brief should be a stand-alone document, which speaks for itself. Often, briefs will be passed from one creative person to another, without any background, context or explanation. If you’re lucky, you may receive an email, or a call, asking for clarification; but there is no guarantee.

This single document can be used to design entire campaigns, or provide direction for a single graphic. All of the research that’s been performed, conversations with the client, and market analysis, must be translated into a 1 – 2 page brief.

But just like getting to Carnegie Hall, all it takes practice (practice, practice).

Here’s an overview of the key components to any effective creative brief. Feel free to use this as a template for your own creative briefs.

Timing and Deliverables

Desks get messy, and sometimes things get overlooked. Putting the most important information at the top will make it easier to set priorities. A quick glance at any creative brief should remind you of deadlines and expectations.
Answer the question, “what and when?” This is where you put the most basic of requirements, and place it prominently.

Overview

People are busy at work, managing multiple projects, answering emails, and attending meetings. Don’t force people to re-read an entire brief every time. Instead, summarize the most important information in the overview section. This section, along with the timing and deliverables section should provide enough info to remind them what’s required.
Explain the work needed and provide only the most important information. This section should summarize the entire brief, for quick reference and recollection. Save this section until the very end; after you know exactly what the rest of the brief contains.

Objective

Every marketing piece has a purpose. Most often, it’s to encourage a consumer to take a specific action. It’s important to know what you want a consumer to do before you start working on it. If you understand what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s easier to stay focused.
Know what you want the consumer to do, and state it clearly. If there are specific calls-to-action, include them. It’s important to understand the goal of each creative piece before starting the work.

Most Important Thing(s)

Similar to the objective, understanding the primary goals is essential. Where the objective details the purpose, the most important thing(s) lists mandatory elements, specific rules or essential things to include.
If there are elements or considerations which must be used, communicated, or included, list them in order of importance. The purpose of this section is to let the creative person know, that any work missing these thing(s) will be considered incomplete.

Target Audience and Insights

When you attempt to target everyone, you end up reaching no one. Know your audience, their pain-points and interests. Messaging should always communicate with audiences the way they communicate.
Briefly define the target audience. Reference market research or reports which can more thoroughly describe the demographic. Explain who the creative is for, and how communicate with them.

Messaging and Copy

Words can be persuasive. They can be controversial. Words can provoke reflection, initiate action, or make a person smile. Know what you want to say, and how it should be said.
If there are specific phrases or keywords that should be included, add them here. Provide direction to the copywriter, by defining communication styles, and the brand’s voice. If the creative will be used online, be sure to add SEO keywords and anchor text.

Design and Graphics

In the marketing world, looks are everything. In a rapidly refreshing environment like the internet, visual elements must stand out, or risk being ignored.
Describe the look and feel of the creative. If there’s a theme, make sure it’s explained. Any required elements, such as logos, trademarks, or product images, should be included.
Try to avoid telling an artist how to design, but give enough information and direction to get them on the right track.

Considerations and References

The structure of this brief places the key information at the top, and provides enough specific details to get started. A brief should be formal and consistent, since this one document may be seen by multiple creatives, who may or may not have context.
However, this is where you should break free from the formalities, and give any other information that may help get the work completed.
If there are previous marketing materials that are similar, reference them. If the client wants the piece to match something they’ve seen from a competitor, add a link. Anything else that can help, add it here. The more information you can provide, the better the final product.

 

GameTime-Gives-Thanks-Holiday-Event-Flyer

I Tend Toward Modesty; But Let Me Explain.

 

In October of 2013, I was challenged to create a one day event at the GameTime – Tampa venue. The goal, as assigned by the CEO, was to get as many people possible in venue, on a single day. The underlying problem, as the CEO saw it, was the GameTime – Tampa venue was still unknown in the area, and too many potential customers were unaware the venue existed. My mission was to create, develop, promote and organize this one day event, with an “as needed,” and “case-by-case” budget.

As the Director of Marketing, with a single, part-time graphic designer working under me, it was my responsibility to first research the demographic near the GameTime – Tampa venue. While researching and analyzing the data, a concept began to emerge.

With the end-of-year holiday season quickly approaching, I realized a tie-in would be beneficial. The concept I began strategizing, was to piggyback upon Black Friday; with a twist. As Black Friday is a day when consumers are encouraged to spend, GameTime would have a day encouraging guests to save. The promotion became known as “GameTime Gives Thanks,” and was held the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday. For an entire day, GameTime – Tampa would offer unlimited and free video arcade game play for all guests. The promotion centered its messaging around the idea of: “being thankful for all the guests that visit and pay to keep GameTime’s doors open, and GameTime would like to give back with a day of free video games.”

As Director of Marketing at GameTime, my responsibilities are vast and multifaceted. I solely manage Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+. I manage, edit and create all content for the website, utilizing a WordPress CMS. I develop, create and implement daily and weekly promotions, design marketing collateral and write all copy. I manage the sole, part-time graphic designer; along with supervise the sales/event coordinators at each of the six GameTime venues. And to succeed with this particular marketing campaign, I had to include each of these responsibilities.

In one month, I designed the GameTime Gives Thanks logo, tagline and description. Utilizing a creative brief I wrote, along with a series of mock-up designs I created in Photoshop, I assigned the graphic designer to develop content for: posters, social media posts, emails, in-store collateral, flyers and direct mailers. I used this artwork to schedule and send daily/weekly social media posts and emails. Facebook promoted posts and ads were used to increase impressions and engagement. I wrote and submitted a press release. A street team was created, under my supervision, to distribute “Golden Ticket” die-cut flyers, promoting the event. A Google AdWords campaign was implemented to promote targeted keywords in the geographic area. A direct mailer was designed and distributed to over 25 thousand local residents. All work was created, designed, scheduled, organized, supervised, written and promoted by me.

As a result, on Saturday, November 30, 2013, GameTime – Tampa saw an increase in guests of over 1000%. Despite all video games being free for the day, sales of food and drink were higher than comparable days, along with an increase in birthday party bookings. In fact, there was a line of over 100 people waiting outside the door before opening. This has never occurred on any other day in GameTime history.

Overall I am abundantly proud of what I accomplished, with little outside assistance. I was provided an open-ended challenge, and went above-and-beyond with success. But I  tend toward modesty, so let me explain. I did not accomplish all of this by myself. The graphic designer played a big role in creating the final artwork. Constant Contact made emailing a targeted list simpler. The sales/event coordinators, along with street team members worked the phones and streets to interact and promote the event face-to-face. PRWeb helped distribute the press release I wrote. Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest all assisted with attracting and engaging an audience online. And of course the CEO and COO provided funds and guidance. Without any, or all, of these people, groups and platforms, the “GameTime Gives Thanks” event would have never succeeded.

Chum-is-Fum-Patrick-Star-SpongeBob-SquarePants-Marketing-Campaign-BecauseYouGoogledMe

It May Be Stupid, But It’s Also Dumb

Don’t suffer from the Sprint Framily syndrome. Common symptoms include “wtf,” “ok?” and “uh-huh…”

When asked about his advertising strategy, celebrated marketer, and brilliant slogan-ist, Patrick Star, stated, “well maybe it is stupid, but it’s also dumb.” If you recall, Mr. Star is the creator of the vastly viral marketing campaign, “Chum is Fum.”

We should all heed Mr. Star’s advice, and keep it simple, and stupid.  As long as it still “kinda” makes sense.

Sprint’s new marketing campaign, known as “Meet the Frobinson Family,” has decided to take a slightly different approach. Can anyone explain exactly what this commercial is about?

 

 

The advertising industry is racing to develop commercials ideally suited for recycling as digital content . My history may be off, but Old Spice was the first one. Or at least the first-best-one. I see this commercial as a turning point in advertising:

 

 

This commercial, with its silly premise and attention-grabbing quick-edits, went viral. Quickly. I’d wager as many, or more, people saw this commercial online, than on television.

And since then, every company has tried to replicate its ridiculousness. In today’s digital culture, it’s become more important to create viral content, than quality content. Unfortunately the two are rarely the same.

It’s only a matter of time before companies begin making commercials, in an attempt to pander to the web, specifically about cats…

 

 

Sprint is now hopping on the viral bandwagon. Falling significantly behind Verizon and AT&T in customers, they’re throwing an advertising “Hail Mary.”  The problem isn’t that the commercial is dumb and stupid (it is). It’s that the commercial isn’t clear whom they are targeting.

Is Sprint explaining, via the Frobinson family, that any type of person can be on your plan? Probably. But to whom are they attempting to target? Heads-of-households generally make these types of purchases. Are the dynamic characters resonating with these decision-makers? Can they relate to any of them?

Or is Sprint’s goal to simply create a uniquely confusing commercial? When Old Spice made their “Man on a Horse,” commercial, they were targeting two groups. Young males (with humor), and Mom (with a good-looking male actor). These two groups make up the majority of deodorant purchases. Sprint, however, doesn’t seem to be targeting any person in particular. Not the head-of-household. Not Mom. Nor Dad. Not even teenagers.

If anyone, they seem to be targeting social outcasts and outsiders. And how many friends and family will they have to add to their Framily plan?

A Professional Introduction

Remember when marketing and advertising was simpler? Buy a commercial during primetime, or in the Sunday paper, and rest assure you’ll have eyes on your message. Try that today and risk your target audience fast-forwarding through your commercial, or asking, “what’s a newspaper?” The options were not only narrower, but more popular. Netflix, Pandora and RSS Feeds have essentially killed the market-saturation approach. The internet has created a segmented market, and having all eyes on your message is, if not impossible, at least improbable. There are simply too many entertainment options competing for attention. How can Mr. or Mrs. Business tell the world they exist?

Every day the industry shifts closer to inbound, and away from outbound marketing. The consumer, if not actually smarter, is at least more clever about filtering messages. People, in general, spend much of their day trying to avoid advertisements. The shift is leading to companies utilizing a “branding” approach. Pushing the “brand,” rather than the “product or service,” prevents the consumer from instinctively tuning-out. A beneficial result of this shift is how creative possibilities expand. Focusing on “brand” broadens the businesses’ message. The objective shifts from, “buy our product,” to, “like us.”

Diversification has long been the safety net of investing. Even marketing strategies have incorporated the concept. Rather than focus a budget on a handful of media formats, spread the dollars across several. Not only does this allow for better market testing, but increases the likelihood of reaching your target audience. This isn’t a groundbreaking concept. Traditional marketing has prospered with this strategy for years. What is new, however, is the depth at which this concept is no longer a suggestion. Diversify or perish.

Today’s top marketing talent will be diverse. They will understand how to design quality content. How to create and curate. What it takes to build social engagement. How to turn a Like in to a Share. And a Follow in to a Customer. They will test and optimize as second-nature. Their ears and eyes will always be open to the latest trends, industry news and the competition. Most importantly, they will be capable of managing all of these concepts simultaneously. Top marketers will understand how to produce a commercial, upload it to YouTube, promote it on Facebook and Twitter, compose emails linking to it, edit blog entries about it, develop keywords for PPC advertising, and how to craft titles and alt-text for organic optimization. The segmentation of marketing disciplines, into specialties, is a diminishing necessity. Diversify or perish, in business, and professionally.

Internal corporate synergy is no longer an appealing business model, it’s an absolute mandate. The decisions of one department can no longer live in isolation. The consumer can now take their complaint directly to Twitter, for the entire world to see. Handling issues exclusively in-house can be detrimental in today’s culture. To succeed in marketing, all business divisions must communicate and collaborate. And the only way to truly foster this cooperation is to assure your marketer(s) understand the bottom-to-top concepts thoroughly. Today’s marketer(s) must understand the depth of systems, be they platforms, media formats or devices, because they all intersect. SEO, social media and advertising must all connect, and success depends on acquiring the talent that understands it all.

Today, more than ever, creativity is the key to marketing success. Digital marketing is such a new and evolving industry, that profit depends on equal parts “best practices” and “outside-the-box thinking.” The goal of every marketer should be: experiment, test, learn, and repeat. Follow the successes of industry leaders and expand upon their insights. However, as a wise man once said about obtaining knowledge:

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know, you know?”

~ Daniel M. Christensen

The Voice of A Working Progress...

The Voice of A Working Progress…

I hate the sound of my voice. I still have no idea how my own voicemail sounds. I don’t want to hear it. The reality of my voice isworse than whatever it is I hear when I speak. To anyone that’s ever heard me, I apologize.

Regardless how it sounds, I’m glad I have one. My limited hand dexterity wouldn’t allow me to hold a full conversation in sign language (sorry ladies).

Hearing your voice is one thing. Finding your voice is something else altogether. What should your voice sound like? What will it say? How will it say it?

As I started my journey through the un-filtered landscape of digital marketing, At first, I simply wanted to be present. I hoped to experiment. Learn, Evolve. Improve. So I started creating and curating. Spreading content across as many platforms possible. I was a machine possessed. On a mission to spread like a virus.

But, as I look back at my work, I notice the mistakes. The gaps in optimization. The lack of quality engagement. I see all the content I marketed, and understand it had no voice. Not unifying message. My voice sounds terrible.

One post was a self-created gif. Another was a link for better SEO. I wrote about a trending sub-reddit one day. The next was about networking on LinkedIn. I’d gain a follower because of a meme I created, then lose them because my next curation had nothing to do with what interested them in the first place.

In the process, I’ve learned my content needs a voice. And it won’t involve speaking to anyone specifically.

My day-to-day responsibilities are overwhelming in scope. I’m a hybrid-marketer. I practice, research and implement a multitude of marketing components. Webmaster. SEO. Social media. Content creation. Content curation. Copywriting. Networking. Email marketing. Direct marketing. Digital marketing. Traditional marketing. Guerilla marketing. Promotions. Public relations. Google AdWords. Social media advertising. Print advertising. And so on. And so on.

As I compiled a list of articles I read, presentations I download, pages I shared, media I created, accounts I followed, etc., I heard my voice.

I’m A Working Progress…

I represent the evolution and growth of a digital marketer. A trial-by-fire experiment, from creation and curation, to implementation and optimization. My hat collection is expansive, and I wear all of them daily.

My guess is I’m not alone.

I can’t focus on any one of these aspects. Not for long, anyhow. My mind, like my to-do list, jumps from topic to topic. I’m the profile of a multitasker.

So follow me, as I experiment. Share the things I like. Curate the content of interest. And if the voice you hear today isn’t interesting, understand it’ll talk about something else tomorrow.

Digital Marketing Cover Letter

My professional beliefs, in three quotes:

“It is less expensive to gain repeat business than it is to attract new business.”

– Daniel M. Christensen

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

– Gandhi

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know, you know.”

– Daniel M. Christensen

 

The next great marketing frontier is web-based. And in the digital landscape, content reigns. Brands that incorporate content strategy and creation within their marketing campaigns will succeed. 21st century marketing will require funding a team of both experts and experimenters. Working synergistically.  Creating, promoting and sharing original content. These teams will curate trending content and build engagement with an audience of new and existing demographics. Inbound marketing will dominate the marketing plans of our future.

 

Traditions are comforting. The old way of doing things is easy to plan, measure and automate. Traditional marketing, perfected through years of innovation by thought-leaders, is a bubble waiting to burst. The consequence of businesses dragging their feet into the 21st century is being “unliked,” “unfollowed” or “downvoted.” To pun it another way, there are businesses buying postage when their customers are emailing, or investing in CDs when their demos are streaming Pandora.

 

I represent the last generation to equally split my youth between pre and post internet. I recall a time before cell phones and PCs. I’m from the era when AOL was THE internet. This hybrid development (part traditional, part digital) provides me with a unique perspective on the internet. I represent the last generation to write an equal number of reports utilizing an encyclopedia as Wikipedia.

 

My education and work experience are unique. I studied marketing, advertising and public relations. Then graduated with a B.A. in Communications. After I pursued a career in network engineering and desktop support. My technical, communication and problem solving skills promoted me through the I.T. industry. When I began work at Zimmerman Advertising, as a network engineer, I seized the opportunity to return to my passion for marketing/advertising, after 7 years.

 

To be perfectly candid, I won’t be the right candidate for every company. But to those in belief that: (1) a digital marketing revolution is unfolding, (2) content will evolve to be the media of marketing, and (3) inbound marketing and social engagement will increase business… let’s chat.

Founder, CEO & CMO of BecauseYouGoogledMe (BYGM)

Summary:

The creator of a digital brand. Because digital marketing experience gets lost in resume translation, I’ve created a viral portfolio of my work. To best illustrate my experience, I’ve built a digital brand. Because one day you’ll Google what I’ve done. So, BecauseYouGoogledMe, Here I Am.

Responsibilities:

As the Founder, CEO and CMO of BecauseYouGoogledMe (BYGM), I am responsible for building a digital reputation, engaging on social media, creating original content, sharing relevant industry articles, promoting organic virality, developing branded messages and constructing optimized platforms.

The following titles can be listed to define the multiple roles of my responsibility. However, digital marketers will soon be expected to master each of these jobs in synergy.

  • Director of Digital Marketing
  • Brand Manager
  • Content Producer
  • Content Curator
  • Social Media Specialist
  • New Media Producer
  • Online Reputation Manager
  • Webmaster
  • Web Analytics Manager
  • SEO Specialist
  • Art Director
  • Copywriter
  • Graphic Artist

Brand Overview:

BecauseYouGoogledMe (BYGM) is a brand focused on creating and curating digital content. The brand mission is to organically build engagement, develop viral content and promote search optimization.

Experimentation , innovation and creativity are encouraged. The brand’s target demographics are evolving, as the audience and cultural trends direct content production. BYGM is run with a skeleton crew, who moonlights as a one-man department.

Social Bio:

BecauseYouGoogledMe, Here I Am. A Working Progress… A Socially Awkward Content Creator & Digital Curator. “Always Save Your Work.” SHARE if You LIKE.