Podcast: The Art of the Creative Brief

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Episode 14: The Art of the Creative Brief

Description: The Creative Brief is one of the most powerful weapons and assets of an agency. It’s the way we convey ideas and innovation to our client–sparking their excitement and vision in three pages or less. This week we talk about the Art of the Creative Brief.

Welcome/Intro (1 min) – Bill
This week I’m sadly without my co-host. He’s off and consumed by his new role at Nutshell and probably trying to squeeze in a little time to enjoy summer. He’s going through an interesting transition that maybe we’ll get him to talk about in an upcoming episode–transitioning into a new organization and slipping into a marketing program, all the while ready to blast in your own growth goals and objectives.

Segment 1: Small Talk (2 min) – Bill
Developing new innovative ideas and then delivering a clear and concise vision of that idea is hard. As an agency and a marketing department, that’s a fundamental expectation from our stakeholders. What’s more the more we exercise this creative process the better we get at it.

This is the magic of the Creative Brief and making is a routine and required deliverable in your marketing team. Just like in college when you needed to deliver that writing assignment, you did the research, found the unique angle, and delivered it by the due date. Each time the process got easier and the results got better.

You’re going to find that the same is true with a Creative Brief. What’s more, your clients and stakeholders are going to start looking forward to getting them.

Segment 2: (10 min)
Purpose of a Brief
To solve a problem and provide rules of engagement.

Understand the Target
Do some research on the current traffic or interviews with the client to gain a firm grip on who their customer is and what might be appealing to them.

Understand Your Capabilities
Know what you’re good at and what your team is good at and then build strategies that leverage your strengths.

Highlight Past Lessons/Failures
Clients are looking for our experience. Give them examples of things that you know have worked and failed in the past given similar objectives. Be comfortable challenging clients.

Determine the Tactics for Maximum Effectiveness
Breakdown the strategy into bite-size tactics so that there is a clear plan of action, steps to be taken, and incremental wins and losses to be tracked.

Define Success
Every objective should have a clear picture of what success looks like. I’m a big fan of OKRs–Objectives and Key Results–as the framework for this part of the briefing process. It’s clear, concise, and the measurements for success are built into the OKR.

It has also worked for Google and several other highly successful super performing organizations.
Make it Interesting So People Pay Attention
More important than anything else, it’s got to get read. Make your briefings as short, interesting and visual as possible. Learn the art of storytelling and make you brief pull in the client and help them see the vision that has you so excited.

Segment 3: Biggest challenge or rabbit hole of the week? (5 min)
Agencies are naturally frenetic environments. We are constantly driven by client requests, priorities, and timelines. All things that we can rarely control. Because of that lack of control on the intake our internal work environment can very quickly become overwhelming.

No one likes to work in an environment like that, which is why I have been working to minimize that drowning feeling over the last few months.

I was inspired, quite literally by a working title – The Calm Company – of Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson upcoming book. If you’re looking to pre-order it (I have) you’ll have to look for it’s new title, It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work.

I’m not sure I have a clear set of guidelines for you yet, and I should probably wait to read the Basecamp Team’s book before I wade in with any authority, but I think I have been makign some progress.

My key focus is looking at activities in our organization that spin out of nervous energy and turn them into more organized initiatives that are more impactful, sustained power strokes.

Segment 4: Hottest trending marketing topic of the week? (5 min)
Consumers general annoyance and backlash at the implementation of GDPR. I won’t dive into the politics of meddlesome, prescriptive regulation. However, the ironic nature of a consumer protection policy that annoyed the crap out of consumers is somewhat entertaining.

Segment 5: Week’s Top Recommendation (2 min):
I’m currently reading Lost and Founder by Rand Fishkin and loving it. As a founder, I love walking along side of Rand and commiserating over a lot of the same mistakes. I found it particularly interesting because Kaleidico started as a software company and was forced, by market conditions, into a less comfortable space as a services company. If you’re a founder or want to be a founder – read this and avoid a lot of our mistakes.

Okay, I’m certainly a Basecamp (formerly 37Signals) fanboy since picking up their first book – Getting Real. Jason and David, please do an updated addition! So, this new behind the scenes YouTube channel – Getting Real YouTube channel by Basecamp – is captivating for me. If you are a developer, designer, or project manager there are sections specifically related to making you better on Basecamp’s talent team’s experiences.