Key Elements of a Creative Brief - Checklist
In direct response selling, the objective is to get direct by-mail, phone, fax, web, commitments…the actual order. The strategy is to tell as much as possible within the constraints of the medium involved, so that all of the prospects questions are answered in the prospects mind and they make the buying decision immediately. This is why, on television, most direct selling commercials are 90 to 120 seconds, or even longer if they take the infomercial format. No salesman is usually involved. Different formats may do better for different types of offers. Self mailers work well for seminars. Thus the need for the all important creative brief.
The client needs to understand DR advertising so they can give the agency all of the right information needed to produce the ad. Or, the agency has to know all of the right questions to ask to get the information they need to produce the advertisement.
What are the key elements of the creative brief?
Product or Service definition
Description of product:
- What product or service are you offering? Describe it in 50 words or less. Be sure to enclose a sample of the product.
Purpose of product:
- What does the product do? How is it used? How does it work?
- Give all the details about the product - color, size, weight, material, number of parts, power ratings, number of working parts, and/or whatever other facts and specifications are appropriate.
Main benefits of the product:
- What is the key sales appeal of this product?
- What are the other major benefits?
- What will it do for the user?
- Does it save time or money?
- Will it make life easier or better?
- Does it solve a problem?
- If so, what is that problem and how does it solve it?
Comparison to other products:
- How does it compare to other products already on the market (or about to come on the market)?
- What will it give users that they can't get anywhere else?
- How is it different?
- Newer Better?
- Is it unique?
- An exclusive?
- Less expensive?
- A better buy?
- Do you provide better service?
- Do you have any related products?
- If so, how does this product tie in with those?
- Will you later sell those products to buyers of this product?
Unique selling proposition:
- What distinguishes the product or service from other choices?
- Does it have parity attributes that we can preempt and own?
- How should the product be positioned?
- What image does product or service have?
- What is the price?
- Any extra costs such as shipping and handling?
- Any discounts?
- Any deluxe versions?
- Any alternatives?
- Any deadlines for receiving special offers?
- What options will you be offering for payments?
- Cash with order? Billing?
- Purchase order required?
- Credit cards?
- What is the offer?
- What do you want the recipient to respond to?
- Is this a special offer?
- A premium?
- An introductory offer?
- A prepublication discount?
- A limited-time offer?
- Free information?
Package or promotion
- Direct mail package consisting of what elements? Letter? Lift letter? Brochure? catalog? Self-mailer?
- Or is it a display ad?
- A newsletter?
- A postcard?
- An insert?
- A television or radio commercial?
- An email advertisement
- A SMS text message
- A social media (YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, Pinterest, etc.)
- Website or landing page for promotion?
- An entire campaign? Enclose samples of previous promotions for this product or other products your company has sold. Which were winners? Losers?
- Themes or images?
- Look and feel?
- Creative objectives?
- Production considerations?
- Distribution/circulation considerations?
- Creative / legal mandatories?
- Any other considerations?
Objective(s) of the promotion
- To gain direct sales? Leads? Inquiries?
- Or is it to provide product information to customers?
- Gain an extra sale?
- Respond to inquiries?
- Announce new products?
- Build the company's or product's image? If so, what image should be conveyed?
- What are the key messages that the promotion should communication with the target audience?
- Are there any secondary messages that need to be communicated?
Call to action
- What do you want the targets to do?
- Respond (via phone, email, web landing page) to apply or order?
- Accept our call?
- Request more information?
- Remit someting?
- Who is the prime prospect?
- What are the characteristics of the target audience or audiences?
- If a business audience, what is the title and/or responsibility of the prospect?
- If a consumer, what are the interests, problems, concerns, demographics, and characteristics of the typical prospect?
- Are there any secondary audiences? If so, is it worth preparing separate versions of the promotion for them?
The target audience's current belief/behavior
- What is the target audience thinking today?
- Do they know and think about the product?
- What do they know and think about the company?
- The focus must be on what the target audiences are buying, not what you are selling.
Desired target audience (customer/prospect) attitude
Lists/media to be used
- What lists or media will you be using? Be specific.
- Which have you used in the past?
- Which worked?
- Which did not?
- Will you be conducting any tests? If so, what points will be tested?
- Will tests affect the design of the package? The offer? The copy?
- What is the budget for this promotion?
- How much will be available for each part of the promotion? For lists? For the package? For other costs?
- Are there any restrictions? For example, no 4-color brochures or no flashy involvement devices.
- When do you need the complete package?
- What are the approval dates?
- When will you be sending out the first test mailing or placing the first advertisement?
- Do you have any testimonials for the product?
- Celebrity endorsements?
- Other media coverage?
- Enclose samples.
- Have you ever had any complaints about this product or any similar products?
- Do you have any letters from unhappy customers?
- Any bad reviews or media coverage? Enclose samples.
- What points absolutely must be included in the copy?
- What benefits or features must be stressed?
- What design elements absolutely must be part of the package?
- Any points that absolutely must be avoided? Any words or phrases? Any designs?
- Anything that cannot be offered or promised?
- What is your guarantee? How strong is it?
- What are its limits? 30-day free trial period?
- 100% money-back guarantee?
- Return privileges?
- Inspection privileges?
- A warranty?
- Will you provide a BRE (business reply envelope) or BRC (business reply card)?
- Accept phone orders?
- Order online through website or landing page?
- Accept collect calls?
- Will you have a toll-free phone number?
- Will you use a 800 phone number?
- What percentage of your orders are now by phone?
- Will orders come any other way besides mail and phone?
- Will you have a dedicated landing page for this offer or promotion?
- What is the history of the company?
- Any special points?
- What about the personality of the owner?
- Any special expertise?
- Any points about the company or owners/managers that might have impact on sales?
- Note any other information or points which could be useful to the copywriters and designers.
- Include any background material that you think might be helpful.
- Recommend additional reading material, if it is appropriate.
- Suggest other people they might talk to.
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