Digital Marketing

This free 7 point marketing brief stops you making mistakes

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Billboard advertisement saying Life is better without crap ads
Actually I rather like this

“A tried-and-tested marketing brief to supercharge your communications”

When you have to produce marketing work, what do you use for help or inspiration?

Do you just fly straight into developing your creative idea, shaping your message along the way?

If you do, you’re in good company. That’s what most people do. Heaven knows I’ve done it 1000’s of times.

I’m not sure about you, but the reason for me rushing straight to developing the creative is simple: time. Or, to be more accurate, a lack of it.

You are probably busier now than you have ever been.

You have a dizzying number of marketing channels to write for, but sadly, the same hours in your day.

But don’t despair, this free 7 point brief could save you

And it doesn’t matter if you’re writing for social media, email or posted direct marketing, press, radio, TV advertising or even events and experience marketing – it works for them all.

It was developed by Steve Harrison, one of the most successful advertising men of the last 30 years.

Steve and his agency, Harrison Troughton Wunderman, produced advertising for some of the biggest brands in the world, including Vodaphone, The AA, IBM and Microsoft.

If you’ve not heard of him, he’s one of the most successful creatives the UK has ever produced; winning the inaugural ‘Cannes Lion Direct Grand Prix’ award. On top of this, he has won three gold, five silver and two bronze Lions at the world’s biggest annual awards for professionals in creative communications.

I had the pleasure of watching Steve present recently at Drayton Bird’s European Academy of Direct and Interactive Marketing (EADIM) conference in London.

What a fantastic experience it was. And if you ever get the chance to see him – or any of Drayton’s events – I urge you to take it.

So, here is your free 7 point creative brief. I hope it helps you.

Use it. Maybe you’ll end up collecting a Lion or two of you own!



How to write your marketing brief

The simplest way of looking at a brief is like this: your client or prospect has a problem. You think you can solve it for them.

When you are writing your brief, keep this in mind as you answer the below questions. It helps maintain logic as you go; ensuring your argument builds irresistibly to your proposition.

1, Who are you talking to? 

Describe your prospect. Who are they? What do they do? How does your service fit into and affect their lives? Do they currently use your service or do they use a competitors offering? If neither, how are they coping without you?

2, What do they think before receiving your message?

This is your opportunity to describe the problem, the need, the want or the desire. This single insight or truth shapes the whole brief. Put simply, you might start by saying “My job is fine but I keep having to……..”. Or “I’d get the promotion I need if only I could…………”. Or “I’m working late every night because …….”. Or “I’d like to eat healthy food but……..”.

3, What do we want them to think after they have received your message?

This is where you will describe how your service will provide a solution to your prospects problem, their need, want or desire. Put simply, you could say “Great, now I can start to ……….”. Or At last I Can…”. Or “Now I no longer have to work late because…..”.

4, What do we want them to do once they have received or read your message?

Go to a website? Return an enquiry form? Call a helpline? Order a sample?

5, What is a proposition?

What is the single-minded promise that will solve your prospects problem? It must, in just one sentence, encapsulate what your product or service offers your prospects. Do not try to write your proposition as a clever headline. Just write it as clearly and as simply as possible.

6, What is the support for your proposition?

Why should the prospect believe your promise? Only give reasons that are relevant and persuasive. Quote facts. Quote figures. Maybe highlight your awards. Quote any tests you have conducted that show your strength against your competitor. Explain in detail how your product or service gives the benefit you have described in your proposition.

7, Other benefits that will persuade your prospects to buy from you

Describe all the advantages your prospects get by using your product. Keep asking yourself “What’s in it for them?”

PS. If you have not already got it, buy and read Steve Harrison’s book ‘How to Do Better Creative Work’. It is without doubt one of the most useful books I have ever read on marketing communications. 


Hacking will hurt Snapchat, but will this $10b advertising gamble march it to a digital graveyard?

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Girl looking at mobile phone
PMSL. Thanks for another great advertising experience Snapchat guys. Keep em coming

Whether you use it or not, I reckon you’ve probably heard of Snapchat.

But if you’re one of the few that hasn’t, Snapchat is a social media platform that lets you take photos and short videos, add comments and send them to your network.

It’s different to other social networking because your photo, or snap, disappears after a few seconds.

It does what all good services should do – digital or traditional – it makes your life better.

And you can’t argue against Snapchat’s phenomenal success: 0 to 100m users in just 3 years. Yes you read the right, I said 0 to 100m users in just 3 years.

And according to research over 50% of all US based 18-24 years old use it.

Co-founder and current CEO, Evan Spiegel, just announced the platform is to start running advertising to generate money. After all, when your 3 year old brand is valued at an eye watering $10billion despite not making a penny, you need to start working on your marketing plans.

But here’s where I sniff a couple of problems. Because Spiegel says users, who will need to opt in for advertising, will see “pretty cool” adverts.

The first problem is that the overwhelming majority of users won’t bother opting in. To put it simply, people just do not like be advertised to.

I mean, how often have you heard someone say “If only there were more adverts in this magazine it would make for a better read?” Or “Thank goodness I’ve finally found a website that launches advertising pop-ups every five minutes.”

And how many times have you run to your front door only to be disappointed that you’ve received no direct mail?

You haven’t. And you never will. Most people have one action in mind when it comes to advertising: avoid it.

That’s why platforms like YouTube force you to watch the advertising they carry. Well for around 30 seconds anyway, after which time you can – and very probably do – hit the close X in the top right hand corner.

Another example of this is Sky TVs box sets. You can’t forward the 2 or 3 advertising spots that are played when watching your favourite show. Believe me, I’ve tried!

And people seem to be more keen to avoid advertising on social media. Research shows that people see your marketing messages as an invasion of privacy.

And people are also starting to understand – and resent – that social media platforms know literally everything about them and use it to sell relevant advertising.

The second problem, which is linked to the first, is that adverts are not “pretty cool” as Spiegel says. They are messages created by marketing folk to sell products.

I think it was Claude Hopkins who once said “advertising is salesmen ship in print.” And even though he said that around 100 years ago, I think his opinion is still valid today.

Spiegel has covered himself in this area though by claiming his platform offers an opportunity for companies to brand build.

So the marketing directors and senior advertising agency people who spend money brand building on Snapchat probably won’t analyse their results. There will be little time devoted to looking at sales spikes, content downloads, promotional code redemptions or movements in brand positioning.

I also see a third possible problem, which is probably the biggest facing Snapchat: user defection.

As I’ve already said, you should never underestimate how much people hate being advertised to.

So there is a real danger Snapchat users will simply defect to another advertising free platform for their communications.

After all, Snapchat built a massive user base on the back of millions of people dumping Facebook. So what’s stopping this trend continuing?

One thing that social media platforms have not cracked, but has always been the Holy Grail for brands, is loyalty.

Users of social media platforms haven’t paid a penny. They are not customers. You could view them as free-loaders jumping from one free platform to the next.

So loyalty is nowhere to be seen.

There is one social platform that is trying to develop good old fashion loyalty: WhatsApp.

Their business model, which saw them bought by Facebook for a whopping $19b, is to keep their platform totally advertisement free, instead raising money from subscriptions charged at $0.99 year.

Maybe this model is the future of monetising social media platforms.

Or maybe there is a middle ground is where you can pay for an advertisement free service, or save your money by watching adverts as a penalty.

I think music streaming service Spotify tried this, but eventually gave up and went to charging people a monthly fee.

Jeff Bezo, founder and chief executive officer of, one said “advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service.”

So maybe watching advertising is the price you pay for paying nothing for a social media service.

Have you ever paid a chunk of your marketing budget to a Search Engine Optimisation expert?

Posted on Updated on

Image of Google Algorithm Updates which include Panda, Hummingbird and Penguin.
Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird…Google will never stop improving it search.

If you have – and it has paid off for you, then well done to you. And stay with them.

I say this because me – and I countless others I speak with – have paid for such services only to be let down.

In fact over the last couple of days I have been commenting on an interesting LinkedIn thread about this very subject.

Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are probably many brilliant SEO experts working today.

But it is also a market awash with scoundrels trying to make a quick buck by plying their ‘magic’.

Then – after the inevitable Google algorithm change – they tell you everything you have been paying them to do is now wrong and it will cost you more money to change your strategy.

So this article, which I read today on, made me smile.

I think this case is in the USA.

But you know the old saying “When America sneezes, the UK catches a cold”


Law Firm Sues SEO Company for Using ‘Spammy’ Methods

An SEO firm is supposedly being sued by their law firm clients as a result of building link farms that do not adhere to Google’s guidelines, trying to cheat the system that Google are insistent on monitoring of late.

With the client disgraced by the dishonest service they have received, the SEO firm, The Rainmaker Institute, is to face up to the online marketing offences they are accused of.

In the technological age in which we live it is vital for every business to have an online presence. The only way in which companies can survive in this day and age is with a healthy Google ranking for all relevant keyword searches.

Where companies are now employing their own in-house content marketers and SEO specialists many are still turning to outside SEO firms to handle this sector of their business.

This law firm, Seikaly & Stewart, is based in Michigan and trusted their SEO firm to support them with the online side of business, a company incorporation so important to their success.

With the law firm feeling cheated by the unlawful service they have received, the matter will be settled in court.

Forcing doubtful links is just not the way to achieve a successful online marketing campaign with Google wanting to see the value and legitimacy of your site before supporting it.

The SEO company reportedly created 6,720 links with the majority of them considered “worthless”. Only a mere 188 of the links, or 2.8 per cent, were of use, illustrating the lack of credible knowledge this particular SEO company employed.

Google are cottoning on to such practices, rolling out the Penguin and Panda algorithms specifically designed to spot untrustworthy links and badly written content.

If you have an opinion on this matter leave your comments below.


I hope you never have to go to such extremes with your service providers, SEO or others.

Just keep your eye peeled for snake oil salesman.

There are a lot of them around in cyber space!

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