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Developing a creative strategy is the best way to ensure that assets are created with intention and that results stay in line with a larger, tactical plan
Developing a detailed marketing or advertising campaign without a creative strategy can be like flying blind, but in today’s busy marketing environment, it can be hard to find the time to get one done. Sure, there are instances where a fully vetted creative strategy may not be necessary. But in most cases, having one serves a crucial role in ensuring that deliverables and creative assets are designed with intention and that each contributor understands their role.
What is a creative marketing strategy?
A creative strategy is like an outline or blueprint that is prepared before the launch of a new marketing project or campaign. It not only outlines what the components of the marketing message are, but it also determines who it should be conveyed to, and in what tone. A company’s creative strategy should act as a guiding light for the team charged with developing the outward-facing advertising materials within the campaign.
A creative strategy is generally outlined in what is referred to as a creative brief. This document can take shape in any file format (Word, PDF, Google Doc, etc.), but a new brief should be created before the launch of any new substantial project or campaign. While detail is important to include, you don’t want to go overboard. The goal is making it readable and digestible. It’s also important to review and discuss everything outlined in the brief with all project contributors before kicking off new projects.
What are the components of a creative brief?
Your creative briefs should include the following key pieces of information:
1. Describe your company
If you are outsourcing to a designer or creative agency to produce your marketing project, it is helpful for them to have a clear understanding of your business. Provide background information about your company and what products or services are offered, as well as any relevant links.
2. Explain the project
Are you refreshing your website or social media pages? Maybe you want to kick-start a new direct mail campaign? This is your opportunity to summarize the project, its purpose, and why you need it.
3. Outline objectives & success metrics
This is arguably the most critical part of your creative brief because, without clear objectives, there is no way to measure success. It is crucial that this component of your creative strategy be solidified before executing any portion of the project. What are you hoping to achieve with this project? What are your end goals and how will you quantify success?
4. Define your target audience
Explain who this campaign is intended to reach. Share demographic information, along with any behavioral insights that you might have. Specific messages and designs can resonate with different kinds of people, so understanding and defining the target audience is key.
5. Explain style, voice, and tone
Your tone and style should always coincide with your brand, but most important, with the project at hand. This is where the creative direction is needed. If you’re designing a contest postcard, for example, it would be appropriate to make the tone and style energetic and fun. On the other hand, if you’re designing a healthcare trifold, then a more formal style and tone would be more fitting.
6. List all deliverables
List each deliverable needed as a result of this campaign, along with associated file formats, size information, and any other pertinent details to help the creative team deliver the right materials.
7. Timeline and stakeholders
Specify the project completion date, along with all benchmark dates associated with the process. Include deadlines for creative proofs, edits, printing, and any other pertinent details.
You’ll also want to list everyone involved in the review and approval process. Include their contact information along with instructions on how and when they should be looped into the process.
Include budget information in your brief, and always be sure to review it with your designer or agency to make sure expectations are realistic before getting started.
Why is a creative strategy important?
While it takes time to develop creative strategies and creative briefs, they are the best way to ensure that the deliverables align with expectations for the project as a whole. And, in addition to providing the creative contributors with an accurate project blueprint, creative briefs also force the team to be intentional and strategic before kick-starting new projects. Defining project goals before moving forward with development is a surefire way to keep everyone focused on producing results-driven projects.
At Gunderson Direct, we can work with you on your creative strategy. If you’re interested in integrating direct mail into your marketing approach, drop us a line.