The missing part of most creative briefs. The “So What!?” factor.

Posted by on Jul 30, 2012

Someone recently asked me that, if I wrote a creative brief, what information would I add to improve it? Having written them many times, I replied with what I think is sorely missing from most creative briefs…

“So what?”

That’s what I would add (and answer) in the creative brief. Right after the section about the client product or company background. It’s needed because simply lathering a creative brief with a mound of product information isn’t enough. And frankly, often an act of laziness. Or to cover for an inability to make marketing choices. Which, if I remember correctly, is what marketing does: segment (make defining choices).

Yes, information is a valuable partner to good marketing. Just like talent is a good aide to achieving a goal. But whether both are successful depends if you know how to turn them from potential into something meaningful and actionable. After all, the world is full of talented winos. Hypochondriacs are people who have information. Unfortunately it makes them fearful because the information they amass gives them more questions than answers.

I find when a creative brief is written by strategists and agency executives, they will often load a brief with a laundry list of factoids. “.0034 improved torque.” 4G capability” Hey, that’s great. But what I think should be discussed and find its way onto a strategic document is a point of view that assumes the customer doesn’t work in the same environment as the client or spend every waking moment thinking about our client’s product-or will make conclusions about our product in the most rational, methodical terms.

Why should a target audience profile like that care anything at all about all the factoids presented in the brief? “Just the facts,” won’t work here. There has to be a understanding of meaning.

That’s the “so what!?” Factor. And two more good reasons for asking it in a creative brief.

1. It keeps both the agency and client from talking to themselves. The question forces us constantly re-evaluate the target audiences’ needs instead creating a feedback loop of conventional wisdom or reinforced perceptions stuck inside a corporate bubble. To avoid the notion that “This information is important because we’ve said before that it’s important.”

2. Answering the “so what!?” question also forces client and agency to keep finding what I call the “inherent drama” in a product or service. That angle, that gut-felt sales point that makes the marketing message really matter to a potential customer. Find that, and you’ve found the reason that will make creative work and customers buy.

“So what!?” That’s what.

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