How to Brief a marcom consultant

Often, when it comes to advertising / marcom briefing, the attitude and approach displayed by a few senior managers / leaders, is amazing!

A couple of years ago, I came across a very senior person from a leading Co from the services sector, who wished to promote one of the services offered by the company thru social media. The service itself, I was told, has been running for quite some time, but has not been adopted by customers to the Co’s expected levels till then.

In absence of a clear and concise brief, I asked a few historical questions related to the project, e.g. its current usage, awareness, adoption, etc., core problems being faced with the service, the company’s past efforts to increase adoption rates, PLUS why did the company feel social media was the right way to solve the problem.

The response I got, just amazed me! He expected these answers to be coming from me!

Now, in a normal set-up, every marcom consultant usually comes up with insights gained through some sort of research, based on a hypothesis floated by the client. However in this case, the response made me feel strongly that the client didn’t have any support feedback mechanism in place while launching the service! Isn’t it largely a waste of his marketing budgets?

While briefing for any marcom campaign, follow the FIVE basic requirements: 

1)      What’s the marketing PROBLEM you’re facing? – In fact, without a proper understanding of your marketing problem, you’ll be directionless about the need-gap areas of your marketing program. Identifying need gap areas will lead you to the next question.

2)      What’s the OBJECTIVE of your marcom campaign? – Without a clear-cut objective, you should not approach any consultant / agency. Otherwise, there’ll be a general tendency for them to respond with an objective definition that suits their understanding of the project, and not necessarily yours.

3)      Who’s your core TARGET for the campaign? Who are the influencers? – Often many marketers fail to define this, or consider that “all” groups within their product usage segments are their core targets. This is a flawed way of marketing communication. Your core target actually drives your brand’s personality to some extent. The influencers feed in to the ecosystem in which your brand’s personality survives. Hence you need to be extra careful!

4)      What’s the proposed DOMAIN of your marcom campaign? – The geographic / psychographic / usage / or any other segment domains defines the playing field for your marcom campaign. The clearer the domain is, the more effective is your investment.

5)      What’s the RESULT you’re expecting after the campaign is over? – Try to clearly specify the result you wish to achieve, if possible in numbers. When not possible in numbers, try to establish a qualitative factor that would decide the campaign effectiveness.

If you’re planning to invest in a campaign, without having a clear knowledge of the above factors, your investments stand to be ineffectively utilized or lost! And yes, DO NOT propose a solution to your problem while briefing, even if you know that’s the correct one! If you do wish to still, give enough details on THE REASONS behind your assumed solution(s).


Art of Copywriting in 6 steps

  • What topics would you want to have covered in a copy writing course, if you were a copy writer (most likely a corporate employee type)? LinkedIn question by: Kimberley Deas

Copywriting is as much a science as an art. While there’s a vast content available offline and online on “what’s a good copy” or “how to write a great copy” or “How to write for grabbing customers”, etc., rarely we see any guidance on developing original skills that made many copywriters jump out the threshold of “GOOD” copywriting and reach the level of “GREAT” copywriting.

If I were to start a new course on copywriting, I’d like to develop it into 6 modules, which are based on my experiences with the good, bad, ugly and “great” copywriters. Each of these modules actually teaches a skill, and leaves the learner on his own to develop, polish and sharpen these skills to such a level that it becomes an art. Here are the 6 modules:

  1. The Art of writing Simple English – Copywriting is for communication of a thought or info. distribution. The more jargonised, sophisticated the language becomes, the less comprehension occurs at the receiver level. Nick Curtis has a wonderful book dedicated to this aspect (available from Oxford Univ Press)
  2. The Art of Saying MORE with less – When a copy communicates more with lesser number of words, it expresses a thought and not just delver symantics. This is not choosing complex words, but more about choosing the right thought and delivering in a few words. This also helps in headline / slogan development.
  3. The Art of the Logical Thought – Structured thinking has a unique place in copywriting, since it helps organise knowledge and plan out the optimal ways of sharing the knowledge. This is also known as “Analytical Thinking”
  4. The Art of AIDA – Whether one writes for advertising or any other content, the basic rules of communication are same and need to be learned carefully. A=Awareness grabbing I=Interest generation D=Desire development and A=Action stimulation. The process starts from Awareness, which includes impactful attention grabbing, and leads thru Action generation – i.e. doing something after one reads the copy.
  5. The Art of the Illogical Thought – Once the above 4 processes are mastered, only then one should concentrate on this, since depending on the individual, this skill needs more time to adopt. This helps in idea generation and thinking out of the box / creatively.
  6. The Art of Synthesizing – This practice helps one to synthesize information and ideas into creating a new idea. Although this is not how many creative professionals choose to think, but it serves as an important secondary process to generate new creatives
  7. Homework: Last but not the least, one should also learn basic English grammar, which is an important skill to write any language.

I’m sure to raise some eyebrows from some sections of the profession. I’d like to have all your opinions below, so that this could be improved further. For others, including students of copywriting, even though you might not be following this type of course, make this your life-long learning goal for delivering (and teaching) great copywriting.

Also look for Other Answers in LinkedIn.

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Art of Copywriting in 6 Steps is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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