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Dave’s three-step recipe for great briefs

A dash of this, a pinch of that… and three simple questions to ask when writing your next brief.

We’re all familiar with the turn of phase; ‘a meal is only as good as the ingredients you use.’

Communications project are similar. And regardless of the desired output – advertising, design, website development, social media engagement or other – what goes into the creative brief represents the crucial ingredients.

Understanding the tastes of our audience is a critical first step. What dish will they respond to best, to satisfy the hunger their perceived problems create?

We then turn to the specific communications challenge at hand, using the brief to articulate a distinct recipe where the unique selling proposition of our particular product or service can come alive in the mix.

We might add a single-minded proposition and a dash of proof points to substantiate our claim. Finally, we’ll garnish with a ‘call to action’…

Is it ready yet?

This is the point most of us enthusiastically tie the apron on and run towards the creative ovens to get the magic started. But if we stop here we miss an opportunity. Many simply think of a call to action as a “call this number or ‘visit us at”.

However, a call to action should be so much more.

Ultimately, the creative response has one purpose: to elicit a positive ‘cause and effect’. An enquiry, a sales conversation, positive sentiment – you get the idea. Success requires our audience to take a number of steps, each giving permission to move onto the next.

For that reason our CTA should be formulated in response to three questions:

What do we want our audience to Feel?

What do we want them to Think?

And finally

What do we want them to Do?

You’ve heard the statistics – consumers are bombarded with 1000s of advertising messages every day. Their subconscious filters most of these messages, so we can’t expect our audience to think rationally about our offer unless we break through their emotional barrier.

To get back to our cooking analogy for moment, it has to appetise.

Going beyond the sizzle

Our consumers must sense that our brand understands them, and speaks to them in a tone that instils comfort and trust. Our first step has been to make them Feel.

It’s the same reason why we’re all more likely to take advice or recommendations from family and friends over strangers: we already feel that trust with those close to us, believing that they have our best interests in mind.

If we have our audience feeling positively about our brand, they are naturally predisposed to choosing our product, service or cause. Suddenly our claims, our points of difference and our reasons to believe all seem more rational… and they’ll Think further on how what we’re serving up can benefit them.

With our audience feeling and thinking about us in this way, we’re now in a position to articulate what we want them to Do. Here is where we now layer in the traditional Call to Action.

The secret sauce

So when considering your next communications project, once you have your brief brimming over with valuable insights about your target audience and what you’re offering to them, see if you can articulate – ideally in no more than a sentence – what you very specifically want them to Feel, Think and Do when they come in contact with your communications.

These few extra questions may be the ingredients that take your creative dish from good to great. You may even have them coming back for seconds…

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A dash of this, a pinch of that… and three simple questions to ask when writing your next brief.

David Whiteside Director of Planning at Sense
David Whiteside
Director of Planning