It’s no good complaining to your agency about a failed campaign unless you can be sure you gave them, or allowed them to obtain, all the information required to develop the right creative message. To achieve this you must develop a comprehensive brief that includes the following.
Your campaign objectives – is this brand awareness, increased market share, diversification, etc.
Your target market – you should have undertaken market research before now that describes who your market is, what they buy, how they reach purchasing decisions.
What is your products USP (Unique Selling Point/Proposition) – Why should it be purchased above a competitor, what makes it different
Your core message – what you are offering the customer – further information, a chance to sample, special offers
Your call to action – How you want potential customers to respond – request information, call a telephone line, go to your website
Media – where your message is going to be delivered. More reasons to have conducted research
What supporting activities will be required – point of sale, telemarketing, exhibitions
This is vital information that will help creatives approach the job in a logical way, ensuring all the relevant facts are taken into account and that the copy and creative ideas fit the task.
A brief of this nature is vital whether you are using outside suppliers or your own in house team.
It’s Friday, and like the majority of employees you should be looking forward to a couple of days having fun with family and friends. You’re not like the majority of employees though are you? You run your own business and while others are out in the park, at the cinema or favourite Italian you have your expenses to sort out, the bookkeeping to catch up on, that presentation won’t do itself and don’t forget you have to sort the paperwork for the German exhibition.
It doesn’t have to be that way
Entrepreneurs can use virtual assistants for everything from making sales or customer service calls to sending out thank you cards to prospective clients. Consider a virtual assistant as a member of your team who happens to work remotely.
Here are 9 ways that using a virtual pa could give you enough time to start putting the fun back into your weekends.
Finance: Keeping tabs on bills and other bookkeeping matters is probably one of the easiest things to outsource to a virtual assistant, says Kathy Colaiacovo, marketing director for the International Virtual Assistants Association. Many small businesses choose to share their bookkeeping systems with their virtual assistants who can then follow up on tasks such as outstanding invoices or unpaid bills.
Research: No excuse for not knowing the competitors or potential customers. You can easily farm out Internet research to virtual assistants. Common requests include finding information on corporate websites, exploring new products and vetting potential employees or business contacts. Using the right Virtual PA you can even get them to conduct targeted market research on your behalf.
Database entries: Whether you have collected a number of new business cards picked up at a trade exhibition or updated information for existing contacts, keeping databases current is a suitable task for virtual assistants who can provide the important and necessary follow up.
Presentations: Turning raw data into a clear PowerPoint presentations or summarising research findings in a Word document can be a real timesaver.
Transcription: If you are in a business where you are on the road a great deal or have to take numerous notes you probably have to use a recording device which then has to be replayed or downloaded and typed up. Wouldn’t it make sense to hand it over to experts while you get on with more important tasks?
Social tasks: Virtual assistants can handle time consuming tasks such as networking follow ups or sending thank you notes. This leaves you free to concentrate on what you do best – running and developing your business.
Travel: Virtual assistants are a great resource for finding hotels, booking airfares and mapping out travel itineraries both for business and pleasure. They can also deal with the time consuming hassle of navigating time zones when booking or researching international travel options by phone.
Meetings: The scheduling tools that are available online mean that a virtual assistant can manage the calendars of many clients. These include dealing with meeting invitations from others, scheduling appointments with clients and helping to plan events, booking venues, minute taking and distribution.
Industry knowledge: A small business can use a virtual assistant to help them keep up speed with developments in the industry. Their input will enable you to update your Twitter feed or write about interesting developments in conversation with customers and prospects
All the individual items listed here can have an important effect on the time you can spend on your business. They are all tasks that need doing but do they need to be done by you personally when a little planning and well prepared briefs can free up your time to spend with the family and friends.
How many times have you sat thru a presentation or read an organisation’s advertising and sales literature where the content waxes lyrical about the various strengths of the product? It’s lighter, quicker, better and of course it maximises and optimizes as well as being more reliable, longer lasting and saving money. In tests brand X outperformed all other brands.
While all these claims may be perfectly true what do they actually mean? If you read that something will speed up your production process are you actually any wiser? Speed up the process compared to what? Reading descriptive text leaves the purchaser knowing nothing. Quite simply it gets boring and the reader switches off.
Let’s face it, there are only so many ways you can describe how much bigger, faster, lighter a product is and your customer has read them all.
You can be different – instead of pure narrative give the reader something tangible, give them facts and figures.
Your cutting machine outperformed the competition in accuracy by 0.002mm; under tests the brand X battery lasted 24 hours longer than other leading brands.
Remember you’re not competing for a literary prize you’re selling but that doesn’t mean you can’t be interesting. Despite its age the classic ad above for Rolls Royce created by David Ogilvy still stands as a great example of advertising copy. Why? Because it’s full of facts that sell the car, even the headline but it still makes great reading.
David (inspired by Jeffrey J Fox)
Have you ever stopped to think what your name says about you or even if it actually represents what you want it to? Moreover does your name speak to your customers and convey your products message?
A simple example to illustrate this:
We all assume (I think) that Vodka is a great Russian export. Consequently most Vodka has a Russian or East European sounding name to reinforce the message.
All very Cosak sounding you’ll agree. However, only one of the above is made in Russia, Leningrad to be precise and that is the last one Stollchnaya. The others are made in the USA.
A name can say a lot about the product it represents, make sure you get it right. Spend time doing research and holding focus groups before you finalise something.
Many SME’s will invest a significant amount to ensure that the design of their marketing collateral looks professional, but how many, I wonder, happily pay the same sort of money for the right content? After all, you know your company, you know what it can do, how it works and its experience in providing a particular product or service.
For this reason, many senior managers will take on the responsibility for writing the copy that relates to their department. This is fine except that more often than not that is just what is written -
‘we can do this’
‘we are proud of our’
‘we can help by’
‘I have experience in’
Your copy, whether in letters, direct mail, brochures, web site or company profile, should be written with the reader in mind, that way you will focus on their needs.
As an experiment go through all the different pieces of marketing material you use and in one colour mark each we, us, I, me, our, my etc. and in another colour mark each you, your’s, your. Then count up each colour. You should end up with a ratio of around 5 you to every 1 we. If your ratio is the other way around your copy is focussing more on what you want to say rather than what the reader may want to read. Changing this emphasis will make a big difference.
For a free review of your present marketing collateral, get in touch
David has worked in advertising and marketing services for 30 years both client and agency side. Having worked with local, national and muliti-national clients, he set up DLH Marketing to help small organisations, owner managed businesses and those organisations without in-house marketing.