This is a short bonus episode to follow the one about briefs. I found the brief I wrote for this podcast series, and here we have a look at it. The briefing format is unusual, but rather excellent. It was shown to me by Lu Dixon, a creative titan, and I found it very stimulating. Listen and hear about the format, and then the actual brief I wrote - and let me know if you think we've delivered on the brief. Warning - as I wrote the brief, and the client was Kitcatt and Croke, the language is a little less formal than it would have been for most clients. A bit sweary at times.
21a. The actual brief for these podcasts – does it measure up?
I wanted to add a little something to the previous podcast – the one about how to write a creative brief.
In it we went into quite a lot of detail about things like propositions, and one thing and another, but we didn't talk about the format of the brief. And I can tell you that over my time in the business I have seen – and even created – many different formats. What I’m talking about is a form – a single side of A4, of course, but with a number of headings on it. All of which are there to make it easier for the person writing the brief to come up with the insight, the proposition, the target market, and all those things in ways that will be easily accessible and useful for the reader – the people being briefed.
Most recently I came across a format that was inspired by the popularity of the idea of storytelling in creative marketing. We talked in a previous podcast - in fact in a couple - about storytelling, and the reasons why it's a good way to approach your creative marketing. But we also talked about the shortcomings of the approach, and some of the things that you need to do to make it work. This briefing format addresses those too.
I like the idea of a briefing format that is based on storytelling – it makes the brief more interesting, I think. I was shown this by the great Lu Dixon, a brilliant creative, who is also a wonderful storyteller. I don’t know if she invented this approach, but thank you Lu for sharing it with me.
This is how it goes. The first section, instead of saying ‘What's the product or service?’ says ‘What's the story?’
The next is headed ‘What's the elevator pitch?’ which is the proposition, of course - so it's a simple single line saying what the benefits are of whatever it is we're talking about.
The third part is headed, ‘OK, tell me more’ - so in other words, this is the support for the proposition, if you like.
Then it gets really interesting, because the next section says, ‘Who's the hero? Why?’ and then ‘Who or what is the villain?’ You may remember, if you did listen to the podcast on storytelling, that we talked a bit about the need for heroes and villains in stories, and the fact that the villains are quite often missing. And this of course is another way to talk about the competition, or the things that get in the way of really great brand communications – so it’s too important to ignore. I love that this brief talks about heroes and villains.
The next section - number 6 – is ‘Who are we telling it to?’ – so, the target market.
Then 7 – ‘How do we want their behaviour to change in response to the story?’
Then 8 – ‘Why should they? Hearts and minds please?’
Then comes 9 – ‘What can’t we leave out?’ – the mandatory inclusions, which would often be something to do with logos, straplines etcetera.
Then the the final one is the deadline.
What's missing from that is what Chalice spoke about in the last podcast we put out which is: budget. But that would be easy to add in.
What I have in front of me is - using the briefing format just described, the brief that I wrote for this series of podcasts, ‘168 things’ - this was something I wrote almost a year ago when we were starting to think about putting out the podcasts. Just after lockdown one began. Now I'm going to tell you what the brief says, and I hope that will illustrate the idea of using this briefing form; and also you can tell me - I'd very much like to know - whether you think that the podcasts that we have put out so far deliver on this brief. Please do let me know, because it would be interesting to hear from you.
OK, here it is: the brief for 168 things.
1. What’s the story?
We have a lot of experience in creative marketing. We’re sharing it, free* to the listener, to help everyone get their shit together after or even during lockdown.
(the word free has an* against it because it always does in marketing - but it is true that these podcasts don't cost you anything so yeah free to the listener to help everyone get their shit together after or even during lockdown.)
2. What’s the elevator pitch?
Creative marketing wisdom, distilled for you.
3. OK, tell me more
There are plenty of courses out there to teach you creative marketing. The people who run them may have top-flight experience, but often they don’t. Still, they want your money.
We do have the experience, but we don’t want your money. This is a crisis, people, and the way out is to help each other.
4. Who’s the hero? Why?
You, of course. You can have all our experience without having to be as fucking old as we are.
5. Who or what is the villain?
Mint Imperials. Decanters of suspicious no-brand squashes. Whiteboards, post-it notes, ‘let’s tell everyone in the room one thing nobody knows about each of us,’ thousand-year-old coffee in an explosive pump-action thermos, ‘let’s network over lunch – it’s a choice of salads’ – training courses that will teach you everything in one day, in a hotel that wouldn’t look out of place in Pyongyang, all in for £564 plus VAT.
6. Who are we telling it to?
Young, fresh-faced hopefuls in the world of creative marketing, in their 20s and 30s, carrying a mortgage the size of a diplodocus turd, now in incipient cardiac arrest because the world just stopped. This will help them calm the fuck down and march in triumph through the corridors of the agency and client offices, socially distant but totally mentally present.
Also, the slightly less fresh-faced, more jaded old pros in their 40s and 50s who maybe can’t swing it with swag and have the sexual allure of a cucumber sandwich, but with two mortgages, private school fees and Boadicea/Genghis Khan for an ex, really truly need a leg-up in the Covid future.
7. How do we want their behaviour to change in response to the story?
Subscribe to these podcasts and tell everyone. Then go on to rule the world.
8. Why should they? Hearts and minds, please.
Because this is how you mainline a double lifetime of experience in a succession of hits, and love it. It’s good for you, and funny. And free.
9. What can’t we leave out?
Kitcatt and Croke Make Everything Better. And they know their shit.
There it is - that is the brief that I wrote myself and Chalice before we set out on this journey. I hope we've delivered on it. I think we've broadened the target audience - I think we focused very much on people in agencies and for in client companies to begin with, but what we're aiming to do with this podcast is reach anyone who is creative for a living. Creative in business, creative in their lives - which is why some of the podcasts talk about just how to be creative as well as some of the kind of nitty-gritty things about marketing.
We have a slightly broader target audience than before, but in other ways I hope we're delivering on this. Do let me know what you think.
I will put this brief alongside the transcript of this little podcast and the previous podcast. I'm really behind with the transcripts, I have to admit. It’s harder work than you might imagine but they do exist - some of them - and this one will shortly and this brief definitely will go up because it's already been written - so that's nice and easy.
To find the transcripts, you need to go to 168things.buzzsprout.com, and click on the podcast. An option to read the transcript appears, if it exists.
OK, that's all I've got to say about this. Thank you very much for listening. Please if you enjoyed this, or any of the other podcasts do what the response section of this brief asks for: subscribe to these podcasts, and tell everyone - and then optionally go on to rule the world.
Please do subscribe and please leave reviews - reviews help us to go up the podcast ratings and reach more listeners. We have an interesting tool, by the way, which can tell us where we're doing well in the world - and we were very briefly the number one marketing podcast in Belgium a couple of weeks ago - did I mention that before? I notice we’re the number 9 in Macau at the moment. Interesting information. You could help push us up to the top of the rankings in those countries and many others - and that would be great.
OK thanks very much - bye for now.