Digital Creative Drives Results

As marketers, we know that the only thing that's more important than generating ROI is showing how we did it. Doing so wins us increased budgets and resource allocations year after year and demonstrates marketing's value to our organization.

Many factors determine the extent of that ROI, but there's one that can't be ignored—the quality of your marketing creative. Together with placement and execution, creative can make or break your campaigns.

Throughout this series we will explore the four steps you or your creative agency should take to achieve better results from your marketing creative.

Today, we tackle the first.

Efficient Creative Briefing

Experience tells us that when creative content is focused on a single outcome, it delivers great results. And that process starts with defining what that outcome will look like.

Creative directors would agree that the creative brief is the most important document in any creative campaign. Most would refuse to fire up Photoshop or attend a campaign meeting without one. So it's fair to say that you can't expect anything useful from your agency or designers unless you take the time to effectively brief them.

But it's not all about helping the creatives. Rather, the more time you spend on getting a concise brief together for your team, the less time you'll spend on the phone or in meetings to clarify your directions. It's an investment in productivity.

What's more, you'll also be able to better gauge the outcome of the brief, by measuring your goals against actual outcomes.

So if you spend a little more time on briefing at the start of a campaign, your dividend is in the form of a lot of time saved and stress headaches avoided throughout the rest of your campaign timeline—and you will have made it easier to prove your marketing ROI.

What Is Efficient Creative Briefing?

An efficient brief inspires the creative team with clear, concise directions, with no fancy marketing language and no unnecessary information. It clearly outlines the important background information and the details that creative teams need to deliver a successful project.

I recommend that all creative briefs include the following sections:

  • Details: General project information. Include who's in charge of approvals, budgets, and deadlines.
  • Background: What are you selling? Provide details that must be included in the campaign and the SWOT analysis.
  • Creative drivers: What is the main goal of this project, and what are the top three objectives? Don't just cut and paste sections from a list of marketing goals. Make the outcomes and objectives specific and measurable, then challenge the creatives to reach them.
  • Audience: Who are you talking to? Here you need to provide all the details that the creative team should know about your audience: What do they think of your company and the product/solution? Why should they care?
  • Competitors: Who is the competition? Talk about what differentiates your company and your product/solution, but don't forget to include the details on what your competitors are saying to your audience.
  • Tone: How do you communicate with the audience? This section provides the details that your creative team needs to determine how messaging and content will be delivered. What appeals to your target market?
  • Message: Exactly what should this project say to the world at-large? Tell the team what you want your audience to take away from the creative.
  • Designs: Does the project need to stick to corporate branding guidelines, or can it have its own image and styles? This is where you need to provide creatives with restrictions (if there are any) that will guide the look and feel in the right direction.

Following these basic guidelines helps ensure that your creative team has the information needed to deliver results-driven content that matches your needs.

You may be tempted to fill out a brief quickly so that your project can get under way. But I would suggest that it's better to offer a concise and considered brief. A page of clichés isn't going to help anywhere near as much as a simple, single paragraph that tells the creatives what they need to know.

If you follow the above guidelines and keep your answers clear and concise, the creative team will be on its way to delivering a killer concept for your new campaign (something we'll go through in the next post).

So it's OK to spend a little more time on your creative briefs. Actually, spend a lot more time on creative briefs... As I said before, it's an investment that saves time, cuts confusion, and helps you show that what you can deliver brings better results across the board.

Articles in this four-part series:

1. Results-Driven Marketing Creative in Four Steps, Part 1: Efficient Creative Briefing

2. Results-Driven Marketing Creative in Four Steps, Part 2: Building a Creative Concept

3. Results-Driven Marketing Creative in Four Steps, Part 3: The Right Medium

4. Results-Driven Marketing Creative in Four Steps, Part 4: Matching the Lead Gen Process

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image of Cameron Avery

Cameron Avery is the CEO of Elastic Digital, a channel marketing company and creator of the demand generation platform The Grid. Elastic Digital complements The Grid with a full-service creative agency and team of channel marketing experts.

LinkedIn: Cameron Avery