What does a modern creative brief look like?

Take a look at this Master Client Planning Brief Template It comes from a top international agency – and drifted across our desk in the line of duty.

Call out the bullshit.  This is not good marketing agency business practice.

They asked the client to complete the brief for them.

I understand that ‘cover your ass’ corporates may encourage  these practices but how will this improve client retention? Or client service?

Who on earth is going to agree to that?

What a creative brief should look like

Working with CAS we pitch you an idea which should be aligned to your brand strategy and then we suggest ways we’d like to execute.  You edit / approve but we do most of the thinking and the doing for you.

You are busy – you hire an agency for their expertise and experience and probably to save yourself time.  Surely this could be managed more smoothly?

Call out bad practices – We got the courage to write this post because of these two influential folks below.  Take a stand for good work, honest appraisals and don’t allow bollocks into your working practices.

There, we’ve said it.  Weight off chest.

  • @DannyBrown says “When I realized this, and began writing openly about bad practices and calling out bullshit, it once again raised the level of engagement through the roof, as others were clearly thinking the same thing.”
  • Guy Kawasaki “Unfortunately, “social media experts” cause a lot of confusion and frustration with their Fascist recommendations. It starts with their recommendation that you absolutely must first create a strategy with goals, milestones, and expected results that you can follow, step-by-step, to success. “

What is a good creative brief?

But what should be on a brief if you are producing an integrated campaign that works across platforms?

Edward Boches says

I think the brief ought to start with the problem that we’re trying to solve.

The problem, by the way, may not be an advertising problem. It’s what kind of problem are we trying to solve that would make our brand of more value to this consumer?

I think the second thing it has to address is the use of media, technology, content, and community by the users, customers, or target audience or community members. Thinking about how somebody interacts with stuff beyond just the brand and the category is really important. I would actually go so far as to have every brief basically say, “You can’t solve this problem with an ad. You have to solve this problem with an idea that isn’t an ad.”

Then you get to invent this idea or creative that might be worth advertising, right? I think another way to look at it is to really figure out the problem behind the problem. The problem can’t be, “Oh, we want know about this product.” The problem might be, “Well, what problem do these people actually have that we could solve?” And maybe solving it and actually doing something of value in the world of social media, etc., might be the reason that gets them to pay attention to us and might turn them on to the product we want them to know about. That’s almost coming at it from an extreme perspective in order to fight the inclination to solve problems with a TV commercial.

Broadening the reach of marketing

How do you deal with people who aren’t interested in learning more beyond their narrow specialization?  When a TV advert is the ONLY soution; or social media or direct mail?  Agencies need to be able to work across media platforms, to be collaborative and not stand on their high horse of ‘expertise’ when client brands ask them to work with other agencies on the account.

Nobody, but nobody is a leading edge specialist in everything nowadays.

Boches again

Here’s the downside of that. If you’re not aware of the capabilities of technology and APIs and certain platforms, you may never think up the idea to begin with.

So how will advertising change?

Many of these things are in some ways like the antithesis to how advertising works, where we make our stuff so precious and we want it to be perfect and magnificently designed, and then we’ve got to produce it and then we put it out into the marketplace. That long, linear process might lead to something that’s gorgeous and finished, but it’s not always the best. In a world where things change daily and things are disposable more quickly, it’s not always the best way to do things. I think we’re going to see more convergence among and between marketing, advertising, and software and gaming-type companies over the next five years.

What next?

If you’re an agency – take a look at how you take briefs from clients.

If you’re a brand – don’t stand for any nonsense, if you want to brief the old way – carry on.  If you want a collaborative business partner who will work WITH you to help solve marketing problems, change your suppliers until you find one who CAN do what you need and work the way you prefer.

Read our recommended briefing template and download the word document for you to use.

Another great Website Holding Page design

If you are redesigning your website or just taking it offline for a while, a bit of humour can help with your readers’ patience:

Enjoy this one

404 error page or holding page design

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4 best books on pitching for new business? Let me pitch them to you!

Find the best self-tuition books on how to pitch and win new business – we review four of our favourites.

Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning NewBusiness

Written by Jon Steel Published – October 2006 A professional “pitching coach” for one of the world’s largest marketing conglomerates, Jon Steel shares his secrets and explains how you can create presentations and pitches that win hearts, minds, and new business. He identifies the dos and don’ts and uses real-world examples to prove his points. If you make pitches for new business, this is the perfect book for you.

What people thought: “Perfect Pitch is a powerful call to arms to the lost art of presentation writing and, more importantly, making compelling arguments. It made me realize some bad habits I’ve fallen into which need correcting and the need to take back control from technology.” – Gareth Kay “Jon Steel is a rare breed of truly smart, creative thinkers. Though originally from an advertising background, The Perfect Pitch is by no means simply an “advertising book.” It is a book about ideas and how to sell them, regardless of your business.” – Amelia Torode  

The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business

Written by Peter Coughter Published – January 2012 Occasionally, a great idea will sell itself. The other 99% of the time, you have to find a way to persuade others that it is, in fact, a great idea. Most executives spend the vast majority of their time creating their work, and almost no time on the presentation. Through an engaging and humorous narrative, Peter Coughter presents the tools he designed to help advertising and marketing professionals develop persuasive presentations that deliver business. Readers will learn how to hone their individual natural presentation style, how to organize a powerful presentation, how to harness the elegant power of simplicity, how to truly connect with an audience, how to rehearse effectively, and most importantly, how to win. What people thought: “What you’ll love about this work is the total freshness it brings to presentations. From the very first chapter, Coughter redefines the challenge, resets the approach and shares invaluable tales from the front lines that will make you ache for a chance to get back in the game.” – Dan Wieden, President, Wieden & Kennedy ‘Peter Coughter is not only a master of the pitch, he’s an outstanding teacher. Read what he writes, and then read it again. This book is a gem.’ – John Adams, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, The Martin Agency

Read more

Pay-with-a-tweet: helpful content marketing tool

Are you a business that gives away your content free (as we do)?

Pay With a Tweet

Want to get some reciprocal publicity from your work?

Take a look at Pay with a Tweet from the creative folks at Innovative Thunder

We got a free download e book from Naked Marketing Manifesto

They got promoted using our twitter account

Symbiosis and ‘payback’ all in one!

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Infographics used for business development

Former client, Ctrl-Shift, is a strategy consultancy focusing on personal data and its use online.

They realised that the landscape of personal data availability online has changed hugely in a very short time and despite hysterical outcries about Facebook privacy settings, it is an important area that both brands and consumers should be knowledgable about.

Their concept of “personal data stores” is a really interesting concept that is being built out – imagine you, the consumer, setting the ‘terms and conditions’ for a brand to access your personal information?

It’s called Vendor Relationship Management read more here and here.

But see their great Personal Data infographic published in full with a brief snapshot below showing the 2012 situation…it describes the landscape for legislation, technology, entrepreneurs, corporates and consumers and looks forward in scenarios for each to 2017.

Ctrl-Shift the Personal Data Landscape future

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Brand campaign brief template improvement

Rob Lane my colleague recently wrote a first draft of a new proposal for a client brand and I was delighted that he chose to insert a new section header,

“Your responsibilities”.

Imagine an agency telling a prospective client – not one we’re working with already – that they had to actively participate in delivering to make the marketing programme effective?

I love it.

Now I’m recommending we put this into all new client proposals. It’s authentic and transparent and gives the brand clear boundaries and guidelines that will help us give them exactly what they hired us to do.

What do you do in order to improve your client briefing and agreements?

Read our archive 

What does a modern creative brief look like?

Call our Rescue service for advice on crafting your perfect brief

Website holding page – how to use for marketing gain

Taking your website offline is rarely welcomed by the marcomms team.  sometimes you have go do it.

Brand Glue did a great job of making a strong message come through their holding page.

In fact, since I took this screen shot, the timer doesn’t seem to have ‘counted down’ any more…. wonder if it’s really a permanent thing.  Tho they have added an article below it about their newsfeed optimization service.

in any event, don’t allow a 404 redirect to show up if you can avoid it.

Plus, having a ‘timer’ on the page keeps the focus  pressure on the team building the new website.

Which’ll probably be late.

That’s life.

Cold email introduction – copy this campaign

Want to use cold emails as part of your customer acquisition?  We get dozens of approaches by digital media agencies usually picked up by our clients’ spam filters.

Today we’re publishing one of the better ones as a crib for you to copy for your own use if you want to buy email lists and try to start working cold call emails for your B2B brand.

Here’s the copy

Subject: Oneupweb would like to work with you

Cold Email example text

What do you think?

A short, neat message.  Starts with reassurance – do what you’ve always done.  But we all know how that sentence ends…. “and you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

Nice use of the word “earn” in the second sentence – they are going to work for you to gain trust.  I like that.

The words for the services list are all hotlinks with custom tracking codes – good practice to see where your campaign is working.  I clicked on the link and it took me to a standard page… no special landing site after the page had rendered using the tracking code.

Bullet points

A neat filtering tool is used here.  By quoting fees or likely media costs for services, they filter out any brands who can’t afford to pay $2,000 per month for Search Marketing or $15k for social media campaigns.

Be attracted by the big names they’ve worked for but be put off by the fees = you are not my target customer.

Interesting that it came in to my private email address.  It’s a dot com so maybe the list buyer figured I must be in USA and it’s a long-registered domain (2001 approx) and short so again, it maybe didn’t filter me out for being a person not a business.

Call to action

A question as a call to action is a subtle approach.  Do I think next week is a good time to talk?

Enough time to get into my diary and a question that can be easily answered.  Interestingly, no easy-call buttons for direct line phone numbers added here.  Wonder why?

Footer has company contact information and the usual range of social media links plus an unsubscribe.

What happens next?

We sent a reply – will let you know what happens next.

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Business Development Methodology

I frequently work with clients on their biz dev – as a means of growing a business it is without compare IMHO.

I know my methods and there is a reasonably straightforward base template of activities and actions which then get customised for each situation (depending on experience, cash, skills and time available).

Two of my clients, Wave Creative Communications and Gabrielle Shaw Communications have kick-started their biz dev in the past couple of months.  And, despite knowing that the base methodology is sound, it is still really gratifying when it WORKS – and when it works fast.

Wave chose to use external resource for appointment setting and after three weeks have two live opportunities and eight future opportunities logged for the next 6-8 months.

GSC are doing it all internally and in the month of July have WON four new pieces of business – three in one week.  What was particularly encouraging was that we worked hard at pricing the work accruately and sending the right team to pitch and for one client we sent a more junior team to reflect the value of the opportunity and they won it without senior help.  That bodes really well for creating a culture of new business through the whole organisation.

I am so proud of them.

Here’s the base methodology

  1. Identify your target sectors and named organisations and research
  2. Add to your database
  3. Decide how you will go after them and set up the process
  4. Have support documentation / literature / credentials / website / direct mail ready
  5. Contact by mail / email / voice and record your conversation
  6. Do what you promise to do (send stuff, email, call again)
  7. Flag future contact dates and have a process to ensure this happens

It isn’t hard to understand.  But what Creative Agencies frequently find is that it is very hard to do consistently when client pressures rise.  What I do is to help set up the underlying process to ensure it happens regardless of other things….. Sometimes it works brilliantly and sometimes I am less successful.

If you want a “healthcheck” for your own processes – call.