It’s called a brief, so let’s keep it that way.

mens-underwearOkay people, let’s get down to business here. How many of you have written creative briefs for your agency that included page-upon-page of research, data, analysis and much more? I’m assuming most of you. Now, this is NOT a bad thing. In fact, it’s a GREAT thing to provide. So we applaud you for overdelivering on the background info we might need.

BUT… when it comes down to the heart of what you want the agency to deliver for you creatively, it’s best to keep it short and sweet. The immersion is the key area where we intend to learn anything and everything about your brand, business, category and consumer. This is where the data-dump should take place.

Whereas the actual initiative we are working on should be able to be interpreted in one-page or less. References to examples that you’d consider benchmarks are always a plus.

If you do this and hear crickets, then the agency just doesn’t get it and maybe the long-form is necessary. However, more times than not, the agency will appreciate the synthesis of your objectives, and be able to move ahead much more efficiently with the task at hand.

So the next time you’re getting ready to pull the trigger on that brief, try and remember this tip. It will save you time on both ends.

Thanks for reading, and let us know if this was helpful, or if you need help crafting that brief.

Headline vs Body Copy

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When we see an article, advertisement or even a movie title, our interest is typically based on the headline or body copy. A catchy headline can draw you in to want to experience the body copy, which is the general idea of marketing. This same principle also applies to how we profile the people we work with. Are you a person that just wants the high level facts? Or, are you more analytical and someone who wants all the details? Also a great tool to use for prospecting, and getting to “know” your audience before you engage them. (Psst, agencies, do this when meeting new clients… it will help you determine who you can connect with when in a room.)

It also very much the practice of how we engage with brands that are marketed to us. And as marketers, this is something we must always consider when strategizing around how to connect with our customers. While imperative to a comms strategy, keep in mind that this approach does vary by placement. For instance, at the point-of-sale, it’s all about the headline, a.k.a. an eye-catching design that visually lures you in. But, while a catchy headline may do the trick at retail, most online shoppers want the specifics before they hit ‘buy’. Therefore, body copy can make a world of difference between conversion and abandonment when it comes to digital commerce.

Nevertheless, it’s important to find a balance between the two. To understand the appropriate place to lean at the appropriate time. So, when you’re implementing your marketing communications strategy, think of it as if you were a boxer — determine which blow will have a stronger impact, head or body. It’s all the difference in determining whether you win the bout against your competition, or have to head back to training camp.

P.S.
Me, personally, I’m a headline. I like to get to the point within five seconds or less. So if we ever email, you’ll likely feel that in our exchange. However, this post is more for the body copy lovers out there. Hope you found it insightful and applicable. 

AOR: Agency of Return

When agencies see or hear the term ‘AOR’, they typically drop everything and start to think about how they can position themselves to win. And when marketers are looking for an ‘AOR’, they’ve thought long and hard about the list of KPIs they’re looking to achieve, right?

But these days, it’s not so much about becoming the Agency of Record, but more the Agency of Return. Both marketers and agencies must start looking at how they either choose their agency, or position themselves to win the business, differently. Rediscover what value means to you.

boomerang (1)Think of it like a classic IRA, where it can issue 8% returns annually on your investment. Before you choose that IRA, you study its record of performance year-over-year, and ultimately make a decision on the one that you feel will bring the most value. And in our world, the term value can mean many things. It can be the actual sales increase you see as a result of your marketing efforts, the awareness and buzz created from a new campaign or package redesign, or even just delivering on a scope of work. It really all depends how you want to view it, and what’s most important to you.

From a marketers perspective, it’s more than likely going to be tied to sales. You want to show that the agency investment literally paid off. And from the agency side, the value comes from a satisfied client, and the positive reflection you hope they shine upon you in the trade. Thus, generating new opportunities from like-minded clients.

In the grand scheme of it all, we’re in it to find some sort of return or value. And while that is measured in outcomes, it all is tightly tied to the idea of a much grander hope. The hope of a reciprocating partnership that delivers positive results on both sides, and in return, is quite rewarding for everyone.

So think about how you choose your next agency, long and hard. And ask yourself, do they want to be my “Agency of Record” or my “Agency of Return”, and what type of return is of real value to you. That goes the same for us agencies.

Nebulous To Tangible In 4 Steps

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How do you turn a nebulous goal like “be more creative” into something tangible? Everyone has vague goals at one point or another, and they’re especially common in the creative marketing, branding and advertising industries. This week, Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson published a small tool on Harvard Business Review‘s website, designed to help you reach your nebulous goals in 4 steps.

The tool takes you through four rounds of questions that help you first name the goal, then define sub-goals and what actions will be taken (by whom, when, and where). In addition to this, the tool asks you to create an “if, then” plan, which, as Dr. Halvorson explains, “[humans are] neurologically wired to make”. Essentially, under the specific sub-goals and tasks that you need to complete, you are asked to write a sentence detailing “if x, then y”. By framing actions this way, we are working with our neurological inclinations to accomplish the tasks that comprise our larger, vaguer goals.

Check out the tool here, and see what ambiguous goals it can help you nail down.

What Sparks Our Fire: Turning goal setting into goal accomplishing

Marc-eting 101: I Want To Be Scared

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This week marked the 12th annual Advertising Week New York conference– a week-long celebration and exploration of topics relevant to the advertising, branding, and marketing industries. After attending events throughout the week, we asked our President, Marc Sampogna, what his best experience was at this year’s AdWeek NY.

As Halloween approaches, discussing something “scary” is never more appropriate. At this years AdWeek NY, I experienced some interesting topics and conversations. All of which uncovered insights that I’m sure I’ll use at some point in my day-to-day. But one in particular really resonated with me, and that was with Seth Godin (sethgodin.com). Now, I’ve seen him speak a number of times, and have read some of his books, e.g., Purple Cow, All Marketers Tell (Lies) Stories, etc., but something about this talk hit me in a different way… a good way — in a way that gets lost in the world of marketing and creativity these days. He spoke about “fear”, and that if you, the agency/creative/strategist/etc. aren’t afraid, then you’re not doing your job (Insert resounding agreement and praise here).


Why is it that we filter down our ideas, and dilute the creativity out of them just so they’ll do something average? Well, it’s, as Seth stated, because “average is what reaches 100 million people”. Average is mainstream. Average is a sure thing. Look, from a business perspective, I get it, we gotta sell tickets, put asses in the seats, move shit off shelves, etc. But for f#@ks sake who the hell wants to be “average”??!! I sure as hell don’t. I want to be scared. I want to be afraid. I want to take risks. I want to hold nothing back. Put myself out there and do things that make me uncomfortable. Because if it means that the ideas I put forth are genuine, and inspired from within, then whether it fails or not, I can move ahead knowing that I stayed true to what matters to me — not being average.