Are you struggling to get people to notice your creative work? If so, it probably isn't the work that's wrong. It's the brief you wrote at the start.
If the brief isn't right, the work won't be right either.
So how do you get yourself on the right track?
Well, just ask yourself these two questions:
- What is the problem being faced by my prospect at the moment?
- What is the solution provided by the product or service that I am selling?
If you cannot answer the "Problem/Solution" questions then there is no point in writing your brief.
Indeed, there's no point in doing any advertising at all. Because, quite simply, there'll be nothing in your headline, subject line or strapline - or the content of your message - that might grab your prospect's attention.
You'll be talking to yourself.
Learn from the world's most successful brands
This Problem/Solution dynamic is at the core of all effective marketing communication. Indeed, the most successful brands can attribute that success to their single-minded commitment to solving a key problem in their customers' lives.
For example, which brand has achieved global domination by meeting this need: "There is so much information out there on the internet that I just do not know where to start"?
Yes, that's right, Google. Since the day Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded the company, its mission has been to "Organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful".
Let's take a look at another power brand that, early on its existence, set out to identify and then address a key customer need.
For tens of millions of us, our annual holidays are the most precious two weeks of the year. And we know that if the hotel we choose isn't up to scratch, it can wreck the experience we've been looking forward to for months.
Until recently, we had to base our choice on the hotel's website or brochure. Neither of which mentioned the building site next door or the four mile schlep to the nearest shop or restaurant..
What we needed was a source of intelligence that saw the place through our eyes, and told us the truth.
In other words: TripAdvisor
Here's another example from a successful brand that was actually created from its founders' need to find a solution to a problem they'd just encountered.
Back in 2008, two chaps were at a conference Paris. After an evening out, they set out to grab a cab.
As you may know, you've more chance of handcuffing a ghost than flagging a friendly cabby in that town. To make matters worse, the heavens opened as they set off walking back to their hotel.
Upon arrival, Garrett Camp said there must be a solution to a problem like this. So out came Travis Kalanick's Moleskin notebook - and thus Uber was born.
When you are trying to work out how to write the brief that will get people to take an interest in your message, follow the lead of these brands and others like Airbnb, Apple, Ebay, and Amazon. All have worked out that people will be interested in what you say when you promise them something useful.
And, while most use digital tools of increasingly sophisticated capability to fulfil that promise, they also know that their success is rooted in a consumer insight and not in the technology used to deliver it.
So, before you start writing, get digging.
Steve teaches on the Briefing and Evaluating Creative Work IDM Short Course.