The Nuts and Bolts of the Creative Brief

Ever feel like your creative and marketing projects start one way, and then develop a life of their own, running off the trail in every direction? Do your projects miss the mark in terms of completion time, budget or outcome?

That means you need a better creative brief.

Now, sometimes creative briefs have fallen by the wayside for ‘lack of time’.  But the time you put in up front will ensure you meet all of your goals on-time and on-budget.

creative briefs sm

Creative Briefs

What’s a creative brief? And why is this so important?

A creative brief is an organizational tool that every project needs to keep it on track. It’s based on a simple form that’s been refined through the years within each organization who uses it religiously – and that is what makes it work.

There are questions or ‘prompts’ in a brief that provide essential information for a creative team to consider as they start a project.

If you work with creatives on any kind of project – copywriting, design, marketing, whatever… you absolutely need a creative brief. It outlines the reason for the project, the nature of the brand, the target audience, the restrictions, the goals of the project … even details like word limits and color/image restrictions are important. It’s all there in black and white.

Now, most seasoned marketers have had the experience of handing over a project to a writer and/or designer, and when you see their first draft back you stare at it and say, “What happened? Why is this so far off track?”

Well, there’s a very good chance that there was no brief — and because of that, the verbal and unorganized written communication provided at ‘kickoff’ didn’t include some essential tidbit of information that would have kept it on track. This can happen also if the creative team just jumps in and ignores the brief.  You must sit down and run through the brief with the players, or nobody will get around to reading it.

What’s included in a creative brief?

Each organization seems to develop their own special version. — but there are basics that really must be there.  A general form of a brief may include:

Project description: why is this being done? Marketing objective- response? Awareness?

Situation analysis: background information, state of the market, customer buying habits, new product change, competitors? What have you done before, and with what result? Solid numbers are really important.

Audience: Age, hobbies, why they may want your product or service, have they owned an earlier version, etc. What is their perception of their need for your product?

How should this change the way your customer behaves? Every effort must change something – from generating more loyalty to turning the tide and getting them to buy from you!

How is your product or service differentiated from the competition? Is it stronger or weaker? Be honest with yourself and your creative team so they can be ready to address such issues.

Offer: What do you have in mind for an offer, and why do you feel that’s a good offer? Are you open to other offers? What is the time limit for the offer to be fulfilled? What must the customer do to take advantage of the offer?

How much per unit/sale of this product or service is expected… in the front end, and in the back end? This will likely determine whether this is a lead-generation effort, or a direct-selling effort.

What is the goal for the number of units/sales? This, with the budget, is key to what the creatives will actually do in the end to make your effort successful.

Deadline to either go to the newspaper, the blog, the website, the printer, or does this coincide with any special event?

Budget: How much do you have to spend on the total project including printing, mailing, creative, etc. *

* I know, this is tough. But, it’s good professionalism to identify your budget and give your team full advantage of it so they can work with you on how to spend it. And you may be surprised … your creative team may put more of your budget into the printing, and pay themselves less, just to make the project more successful.

Whew! Looks like a lot of work!
Who fills out this brief? And will anyone even read it?

This really should take less than an hour if you’re organized! Inside an agency, it’s usually written by the account planner and the client, who is interviewed by the account planner to create the form.

In a freelance environment, there are many iterations… if the client is knowledgeable (as you are now, for having read this article), they kick it off and fill in what they can as thoroughly as possible. Then they work with other managers involved in the project, and in the end, they ask the creative to discuss it to see if there’s missing information — sometimes this will show up through the creative’s questions and knowledge of what’s needed.

A less experienced creative may not even ask for a brief, and they may not realize what can go wrong when there is information missing. But you must do the brief anyway. It’s worth the time to write it, and make sure your creative team really ‘gets it’ before the project starts moving. This will help drive the project to greater success.

Is there anything else that helps a creative team to hit the mark more accurately?

You may have a trove of treasure for them … sales DVDs, sell sheets, database profiles, research results (as recent as possible), samples of prior efforts, current efforts, and brand rules including an FTP site with logos, colors, photos and any other resources you can provide. (Don’t let them in into the FTP site until you’ve made it clear on the brief what they are allowed to use.)

Time for kickoff!

Armed with this information, you are ready for a startup meeting with your creative team. And with this brief, the meeting will go faster, saving you some time. As you review the work in steps, compare what they are showing you to the brief so you all stay on track. The project will progress more smoothly, and you’re likely to have far superior an experience as well as an outcome you can all be proud of.

 

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EVERY project needs a creative brief. Here’s why. And how.

Almost every creative I speak to has a universal complaint. No, it’s not how much we’re NOT being paid for our work. No, the complaint is all about organization. Or lack of it, when we’re given projects.

These can be internal projects as well as jobs we’re getting from the outside.

The Big Fix: in the advertising agency world, ‘they’ realized that they were losing money hand over fist whenever a job started running off track. It wastes time… and of course time is money. That’s why ‘they’ invented The Creative Brief.

If you work with creatives on any kind of project – copywriting, design, marketing, whatever… you need a Creative Brief. It outlines the reason for the project, the nature of the brand, the target audience, the restrictions, the goals of the project… Also details like ‘how many words’, if that’s an essential part of the project instructions. It’s all there in black and white. It’s written by the client, or sometimes the client and the creative director on the project will do it together.

mick jagger creative brief sticky fingers andy warhol

Mick Jagger’s rough but effective creative brief to Andy Warhol for the album, Sticky Fingers. The album cover had a working zipper! Imagine control-freak Jagger actually writing, “I leave it in your capable hands…” and “How much money would you like” … clearly he trusted his designer (and who wouldn’t?) It made me smile to see Mick’s comment that Warhol should “take little notice” of the deadline! We don’t recommend that for most briefs!

In an agency environment, the Account Executive works with the client to develop the brief, sometimes getting the Creative Director’s input. Internally, while Creative Briefs don’t seem necessary, they will save hours of messing around or heading in the wrong direction.

Yes this takes time. Ah, well! It’s time that nobody has, it seems – but it always reduces the screwups down the road that are caused by misdirection. A Creative Brief to follow reduces the relentless impromptu decision-making that starts to take place when there’s missing information and a deadline to be dealt with.

Years ago a client said, “Show me crappy work/results, and nine times out of ten, I’ll show you a crappy brief.”  Her exact words. Inside the agencies she worked with, she would review some of the latest work, and if she made a comment that something was not as she had expected or requested, the eyes would slowly start round the room, everyone trying to figure out who missed that essential element in the creative brief. Heads would silently explode.

Now, in the agency world, this is enough of a reaction to end relationships for even minor infractions. In the non-agency world we try to be a little more even-handed. But the bottom line is, the discipline of a solid brief takes care of all problems that are possible to avoid, and sets the project up for faster completion and a happier conclusion.

A colleague of mine recently noticed that even after a long standing relationship he has with one client, he still gets consistently good, short briefs from them. This is a client who works with a number of different creative teams – and their work performs so consistently that they are ‘return Echo award winners’. So, what is the element that makes every creative team they work with a winner? The Brief. While those creative teams are very talented and deserving of a lot of credit, the common thread in this consistency is the input process — a well written, cohesive and thoughtfully worked Creative Brief.

Every day, there are marketing articles, news items and blogs in which pundits (usually young enough to be my kids) offer reasons why ‘impression fatigue’ seems to be happening to marketing campaigns these days – that’s their excuse for campaigns not working.

That’s just plain hooey.

It’s easy to blame too many impressions, disintermediation of media, and viral marketing for failure.  Sissies blame the rest of the world for failure – winners find ways to make things work in new conditions.

There are still plenty of campaigns, large and small, that do just fine because they have good solid roots. And those winners started with a pretty good creative brief.

Next time you’re looking for a project – internal or external – to work better, sit down (even on the phone) with a smart, experienced creative, a marketing manager, and a blank for a Creative Brief. That hour you take will save you hours later and make the project fly more successfully.

Look for my next article: THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF THE CREATIVE BRIEF.

 

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4 principles of marketing to convergent channels

Many companies think of themselves as ‘omni-channel’ or ‘multi-channel’ in the way they describe their contacts with customers and prospects.

But in fact, often there is only ONE way that they really put forth any true effort.

Are they so time-impoverished that they only have time for one channel?

And, are they so knowledge-impoverished that they only know how to do one thing right?

The fact is that, in this industry, we have the time, we have the talent, and with some work, we have the knowledge and brainpower to create truly convergent channels. And through dedicated merge of brand and markting, we can make it count so we’re recognized everyplace we’re found.

Here are some quick but essential tips for getting the most bang for your omni-channel buck, through smarter convergence of your channels.

1. Consistency. You have a brand, yes? Well, if you have that brand being handled by a number of difference resources, from agencies to web developers to in-house PR departments and more, there’s a pretty good chance you’re losing control of your brand to the extend that your messaging is not consistent.

Your brand standards are an essential part of your marketing package. It’s more than a logo and a color scheme. It’s more than a folder full of approved photos and a vocabulary list of do’s and don’ts.  A real brand realization on our part is one that tells us who the customer is, and we ‘recognize’ that person in our lives.

For example, in a real estate project assignment I was on, they described the customer as someone like Tom Hanks – casual, friendly, wealthy but not flaunting of wealth. Family man, busy but appreciative of quality of life. With that note, we know exactly who he is.

That branding note helped to perfect the foundation of our marketing profile, on which we based a hugely successful direct mail, email and landing-page program.

It’s intersting to note that in every project i’ve done in the real estate industry, the client wanted a separate creative group to do the mail and the email+landing page. But when the email and landing page is well-coordinated with the direct mail, it benefits the entire campaign significantly. When there is no connection – ie, when the offer is not worded the same, when the look and feel are different thanportfolio direct mail skywater spread the mail — it’s likely to bomb. In another client arena, we found that email and landing pages that were treated as a cohesive unit performed over double what the efford did that was kept on an independent track.

Brand standards, however, can be OVER-enforced, leading to a dull kind of thumping from channel to channel — and when that happens there is simply no way to breathe new life into your brand if it’s constrained so much that it’ can’t change from one place to the next.  Brand standards should be well-defined, but filled with enough knowledge that they have some flexibility. I worked on a project some years ago where the branding agency had designed some kind of strange swash art that was to go across the bottom of each and every printed and online piece. This is where i find myself wondering if that agency was simply an overblown design studio, or a REAL branding agency. Because real branding is not reliant or chained to some dopey graphic swash. It’s much much deeper than that. But we were really stuck with that and it ended up driving entirely too much of the look of the advertising. In fact, it distracted from the message. A real shame, The campaign was successful but probably would have been more so if that had not been a ball and chain we had to drag around.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 2.14.36 PM2. Variety. Multiple channels offer great experience opportunities to take advantage of. Wine of the Month Club uses its email to create wildly wacky and candid correspondence and camaraderie with their customer. Meanwhile, their monthly newsletter is friendly but very informed wine talk with the kinds of descriptions you’d hope to find if you’re trying to become better educated about wine. This is what is now referred to as ‘content’ — although many today seem to think they ‘invented’ content  for the web.  They don’t realize that direct marketers, particularly newsletter writers, have been doing content for over a hundred years.

Now, Wine of the Month Club also does direct mail, and in a massively successful mail effort they took an advocacy approach – “I reject 9 out of 10 wines that I taste, and so should YOU!”, followed by “Never pay for wine you don’t like.”

These advocacy approaches are worded differently, but at their core they are targeting the same person — someone who wants to know wine better, and doesn’t like a snooty approach to wine. This client based his business on the fact that making someone uncomfortable about their level of knowledge is one of the fastest ways possible to alienate them.

This variety of statements still makes it clear that these efforts are from the same company.

3. Integrity.  Every channel has someone in charge.  And some of those in charge have a better understanding of marketing than others. Consistency in offers is paramount. And how the offers are worded is key to whether the customer trusts you or not.  Don’t create crappy offers and think it will get attention. 10% off reads ‘I don’t really want you that badly”. And an offer of something other than a discount shows that you are really thinking of them and want them to be happy. Imagine that, no discount offers. It is essential to more effective marketing. Most of all,  treat your customer as YOU would like to be — would DEMAND to be — treated.

4. Strategy. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Today’s client-side managers often come from an internet background, and they’re accustomed to trying out new things on a moment’s notice. They never seem to understand the value of mail, despite its length of time to create and print.  Many of these young managers don’t have the patience, the bandwidth or the interest in testing and planning. It doesn’t occur to them that when real professionals put a mail program together, their campaigns will benefit from that across the board, through better-considered offers, quality content as a result of more professional and confident writing, and more. When great tactics are developed as part of the over all strategy, they can be reused across most other media.

To get this done right, you need to write solid project briefs. And do your research.  Just because something was done before and failed doesn’t mean that when it’s done correctly it will fail. Au contraire! One hopefully learns from mistakes. This also means you need to share back efforts, successful and not so successful, with your marketing and creative team.

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And The BEST automotive advertising so far of this DECADE is….

Honda. Of course.

They don’t Jon Hamm’s voiceover but machts nicht. They have a hugely creative effort that was put out in 2015 and still amazes today. In fact, I am guessing there won’t be anything as good as this for the remainder of this decade. It’s just so damned interesting, innovative and impossible to stop watching and learning from!

By the way, it’s added fun to watch this next video, which tells the story of how they did this spot.

RPA, The creators of this spot have truly embodied Honda’s approach to R&D and engineering in this remarkable two-minute Honda spot. It tells/shows Honda’s entire history though an intricate paper-flipping journey. The effort delivers the Honda brand commitment, quality and promise by being as impeccably engineered as are the products themselves.

The spot is formally titled “Paper.” The film, while devised in CGI, was shot practically, with a few scenes stitched together.

Tom Peyton, assistant vice president of marketing for American Honda Motor Co., stated “This commercial stands for the courage and conviction to imagine and make dreams a reality and speaks to Honda’s innovative nature and respect for personal achievement and contributions.”

All i can ad to that is kudos to this amazing creative team that gives me back he hope I lose when i see substandard work. Congratulations on creating an ad that looks as fresh now as it did two years ago in its launch.

CREDITS
Client: American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Title: “Paper” :117
First Air: 9/20/15

—TV

Agency: RPA
EVP, CCO: Joe Baratelli
SVP, ECD: Jason Sperling
VP, CD/Art Director: Chuck Blackwell
VP, CD/Copywriter: Ken Pappanduros
Senior Copywriter: Chris Bradford
Art Director: Laura Crigler
Copywriter: Josh Hepburn
SVP, Chief Production Officer: Gary Paticoff
VP, Executive Producer: Isadora Chesler
Producer: Matt Magsaysay

SVP, Group Strategic Planning Director: Christian Cocker
VP, Director of Business Affairs: Maria Del Homme

EVP, Management Account Director: Brett Bender
VP, Group Account Directors: Adam Blankenship & Jeff Moohr
Management Supervisor: Rose McRitchie
Account Executives: Susan Kim & Paul Sulzer
Product Information Manager: Marco Fantone

Production Company: Reset Content
Director: PES
Managing Director: Dave Morrison
Executive Producers: Jen Beitler & Jeff McDougall
Head of Production: Amanda Clune
Producer: Stan Sawicki
DP: Eric Adkins
Production Supervisor: Mario D’Amici
Production Designer: John Joyce
Motion Control Operator: Mark Eifert
Motion Control Assistant: Calvin Frederick
Animation Supervisor: Eileen Kohlhepp
Animators: Amy Adamy, Sihanouk Mariona, David Braun, Julian Petschek, Javan Ivey, Jen Prokopowicz, Brandon Lake, Ranko Tadic & Quique Rivera
Illustrators: Jerrod McIlvain, Nicole Cardiff, Vincent Lucido, Arwen King, Meghan Boehman, Monica Magana, Kei Chong, Trevor Brown & Alex Theodoropulos
Set Dresser/Painter: Veronica Hwang
Illustration Coordinator: Evan Koehne
Art Department: Nate Theis, Ellen Ridgeway, Melissa Quezada

Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Stewart Reeves
EP: Angela Dorian
Producer: Leah Carnahan-Dogruer
Assistant Editor: Jasmina Zaharieva

VFX & Finishing: A52
VFX Supervisor & Lead Flame: Andy Rafael Barrios
CG Supervisor: Kirk Shintani
EP: Patrick Nugent
Producer: Lusia Boryczko
Head of Production: Kim Christensen
Executive Producer: Patrick Nugent
2D VFX Artists: Michael Plescia, Enid Dalkoff, Chris Moore, Cam Coombs, Michael Vagilenty
CG Artists: Aaron Baker, Mike Bettinardi, Michael Cardenas, Jon Belcome, Joe Chiechi
Pre-Viz: Ranko Tadic, Ingolfur Guomundsson, Benito Vargas
Colorist: Tommy Hooper
Online Editor: Dan Ellis
Color/Online Assist: Gabe Sanchez, Chris Riley, Erik Rojas
Roto Artists: Cathy Shaw, Robert Shaw, Tiffany Germann

Sound Design: Factory UK – Sound Design Studios
Sound Designer: Phil Bolland
Head of Production: Lou Allen

Mix: Lime Studios
Re-Recording Mixer: Dave Wagg
Assistant Re-Recording Mixer: Adam Primack
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan

—Social

VP, Creative Social Media Director: J Barbush
VP, CD/Art Director: Chuck Blackwell
VP, CD/Copywriter: Ken Pappanduros
Senior Copywriter: Chris Bradford
Art Director: Laura Crigler
Copywriter: Josh Hepburn
Producer: Matt Magsaysay
Editor: A’sia Horne-Smith

EVP, Management Account Director: Brett Bender
VP, Group Account Director: Adam Blankenship
Account Supervisor: Renee Egizi-Finger
Account Executive: Kaelin McGill

VP, Associate Director, Digital Marketing: Aaron Dodez
Supervisor, Digital Content Strategy: Mike Dossett
Sr. Specialists, Digital Content Strategy: Tyler Sweeney & Hartman Wong
Associate Digital Producer: Connor Gomez
Program Manager: Melissa Heitman

—Behind The Scenes

Senior Copywriter: Chris Bradford
Art Director: Laura Crigler
Copywriter: Josh Hepburn
Producer: Matt Magsaysay
Associate Digital Producer: Connor Gomez

VP, Group Account Director: Adam Blankenship
Management Supervisor: Rose McRitchie
Account Executive: Susan Kim

Post Production: Bo’s House of Visual Arts @ RPA
Post Producer: Eddie Granado
Editor: Wendy Sandoval
Lead Cameraman: Zach Grant
Cameraman/pick up shots: Mark Tripp
Graphics: Michael Kelley
Color: Augie Arredondo

Final Mix/Audio: Lime Studios
Mixer: Mark Meyuhas

—Interactive

Video Technology: WIREWAX
Business Development & Creative Services: Bea DiCarlo
EVP, CCO: Joe Baratelli
SVP, ECD: Jason Sperling
VP, Digital Design Director: Michael Takeshita
VP, CD/Art Director: Chuck Blackwell
VP, CD/Copywriter: Ken Pappanduros
Art Director: Jesse Echon
Copywriter: Michael Chen
VP, Director of Digital Production: Dave Brezinski
Executive Digital Producer: Linda Kim
Associate Digital Producer: Connor Gomez

EVP, Management Account Director: Brett Bender
VP, Group Account Director: Adam Blankenship
Management Supervisor: Rose McRitchie
Account Executive: Susan Kim
Program Manager: Melissa Heitman

 

 

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And the worst automotive advertising of the 2017 season is…

And the worst automotive advertising of the season is…GM.

Why am i not surprised? The big American brands have had mediocre advertising strategies for years, and they throw money at wide mass markets instead of using smart targeted marketing to find their true audience.

But this one reaches a new pinnacle of mediocrity and amateurism. GMC Acadia for 2017.

GM presents us this drivel that actually makes me embarrassed for the professional conductor who is featured in the ad. Who, by the way, is Maestro Kazem Abdullah. A native of Indiana, Abdullah, 36, has served as the Generalmusikdirektor of the city of Aachen, Germany since 2012, and has led orchestras the world over. A real talent.

But unlike the conductor who is an expert in his field, the supposed-professionals who developed and approved this ad seem to have no real experiential knowledge of the vehicle, so they start making shit up. It could have been the answer to an assignment given to a freshman art school class: how would you advertise this truck if you had NO experience with it before? How could you make it stand out from the crowd of 2017 automotive ads that are starting to appear?

The agency should be embarrassed by this effort but they are probably not. But the CLIENT — well, whoever approved this or possibly pushed for it on the client side should go back to operations or financial or wherever the hell they came from because they have no business leading and approving marketing and advertising expenditures.

By the way, I’ve seen a tagline for GM where they describe their greatness as
The New Standard of the World.  HOLY CRAP! THE WHOLE FRIKKIN’ WORLD!???

Wow, that would be impressive if they were, but of course they are nowhere close to that. I know from my own past automotive experience that they don’t even manufacture their own engines. So I’m not impressed.

The thing that makes me feel like weeping is that I know wht kinds of budgets these things take, and there could not be more of a waste of money in the world of advertising than when this kind of thing rears its ugly head. At a time when American auto manufacturers should be grateful to be alive and determined to produce and advertise better than anyone out there.

I feel nothing but pity for the people who worked on this who know better. I am wondering if it was Leo Burnett. Not sure. If anyone knew this was a terrible direction to go,  they didn’t really have the guts to stand up for producing great work for their clients.

All involved should be ashamed.

NEXT up: The BEST automotive advertising of the 2017 season.

 

 

 

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The Design and Copy dance team: who’s the best one to lead?

Added Value At Work! on this printed page, the sidebar about the Covert Collection has bulletpoints with explanations that make them sell harder. Yes, it takes up more room, but this mailer did enormously well to the customer list. They ended up taking that copy and making it value added copy, or content, on the web.

Added Value At Work! on this printed page, the sidebar about the Covert Collection has bulletpoints with explanations that make them sell harder. Yes, it takes up more room, but this mailer did enormously well to the customer list. They ended up taking that copy and making it value added copy, or content, on the web.

Most online and printed catalog managers believe that the creative development of a catalog is based on design. So in most catalogs, designers take the lead in the creative process.

This is an unfortunate assumption, because more often than not, it leads to copy being an afterthought.

“Poor stepchild” copywriting really shows as such, in most catalogs. The result too often is the same old ‘product on a page’ routine, which we know from response numbers is not the best way to go.

A designer alone doesn’t have the background or selling experience needed to make a catalog the strong seller it can be.

Some of the world’s most effective ecommerce sites and catalogs are actually quite copy-driven, utilizing added-value content, strong headlines and powerful, well-directed copy. On the printed catalogs, it helps create a hierarchy on each spread. On an ecommerce site, it can make the difference between a dull nuts and bolts home page, vs. one that is lively and intriguing that keeps the customer in the site for much longer.

Next time you look at working on upgrading your catalog and ecommerce creative, consider these opportunities to make it more effective…

1. Work with a smart, strategic copywriter to look over the existing website and, if you have it, your catalog. Ask them whether they can envision a better way to sell a Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 7.19.21 PMproduct or a group of products. Then, ask them to write a small feature that would make the whole group of products work harder, to sell more.
2. Create a headline for your ecommerce pages and catalog pages that will be caught quickly by search – benefit driven, product name, etc. This is what is often called the long ‘tail’ headline that has so much, you can’t miss when it comes to being found.
3. Try friendly instead of simply factual. Even in business to business, an everyman approach beats out the cold hard factual approach or ‘engineerspeak’ every time. That’s because your customers are human, not machines.
4. Bullet points are easy – but in fact copy leading to the bullet points gives a reader a reason to dig in and spend more time with your product.

 

On this 4 gifts under $50 group, it's from a direct mail self mailer, and it's a great example of how a lead in paragraph will make the bulletpointed copy more meaningful.

On this 4 gifts under $50 group, it’s from a direct mail self mailer, and it’s a great example of how a lead in paragraph will make the bulletpointed copy more meaningful

5. Tell a story instead of telling facts. How did you discover this product? When did you realize this was something you, yourself could use? How did you work with the manufacturer to make it even better than ever? First person is a great way to sell if your writer is seasoned enough to write a good story.

In all of these cases, the one taking the lead is the copywriter, and that lead will alter the design of the spread, in some cases, substantially.

In a website, you can set this copy up to drill down easily to more and more facts. ON a printed catalog, you may lose a little selling space by making the copy less rudimentary.

But here is the other bonus with a seasoned copywriter taking the lead: the better the writer, the more likely they are to be able to reduce the amount of copy by writing it more efficiently! So what space is lost by copy changes may come back to you in brisker, more to-the-point (but not cold and fact-only) copy.

Keep in mind, shorter copy takes more time to write. Yes, you read that correctly. Even Mark Twain wrote to a friend (paraphrased) “I’m writing you a long letter today because I haven’t the time to write a short one.” If a master of words like Twain found short copy daunting, you can imagine it’s going to be a challenge for any writer. IN fact, the less seasoned the copywriter, the more naïve they’ll be about the work it takes to produce a good short copy block.

In the long run, all the suggestions I’ve made here amount to the same thing: selling harder by using one of the most powerful tools in your reach – smart copy!

So instead of making the copy an afterthought, team up your creatives earlier in the process and challenge them to, with both copy and design, make your catalog and ecommerce site really become selling powerhouses.

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AAA boosts travel to Hawaii with nostalgic effort for Pleasant Holidays.

Using an illustration filled with nostalgia, the prospective customer is reminded of the old days when Hawaii was the ultimate getaway. This makes them want to go all the more.

Using an illustration filled with nostalgia, the prospective customer is reminded of the old days when Hawaii was the ultimate getaway. This makes them want to go all the more.

Hawaii never looked fresher or more nostalgic than it did in this postcard promotion for Pleasant Holidays, done by my studio for AAA Travel, Northern California.

This is a client with great ideas and interest in breaking out of the box, but also dedicated to solid direct marketing principles so that they have measurable success when they mail a promotion.

The picture side of the card was adorned with an image that bespoke the old days of Hawaii when the idea of going there was like a seductive siren’s call to Haoles on the mainland.

A highly personalized message/mail side boosted the effectiveness of this oversized card, with a casual attitude that reminded the reader of the fun they could have once they traded in their dress shoes for flip-flops.

The production and personalization was done by Brian Schott’s company, AdMail, in Hayward CA, who posesses remarkable capability.

We were delighted to see how well this card performed, and had even more of a surprise when a friend of mine told me she’d recieved a beautiful card for Hawaii in the mail — and it turned out that it was this one. She had posted it on her bulletin board!

AAA Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays postcard message side

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June 6, 2014 · 4:47 pm