Kolby Hatch

A Framework to Uplevel Your Creative Briefs

If you’re looking for creative brief help, you’re on the right article.

In my time @TheHustle, we worked with 200+ advertisers.

That included companies of all sizes: Massive Fortune 100s, flashy startups, and Mom & Pops.

After they purchased advertisements, we gave them all the same creative brief to fill out. Its purpose was to give our ad team the details they needed to produce the sponsorships.

But the real value came from streamlining our operations. If you’re scaling a sponsorship program for a newsletter or podcasts, this brief will keep the trains on time and the clients happy.

Here’s the framework ?

1. Get the boring sh*t outta the way.

These are the details that allow the machine to run smoothly but don’t really help the creative.

  • Client Name (Get the EXACT spelling)
  • URL (WITH any parameters)
  • Logo file (Give them details on size in the brief)
  • Exact product or feature to advertise
  • Point of Contact (Include a phone # if comfortable)

Don’t overlook these details. They’re easy tasks for any client to knock out, and getting them upfront avoids any delays down the line.

2. Ask about their customer

You want to know what they know about their customers.

We’d ask “Who is your dream customer?”

That was okay. It would produce a lot of aspiration statements, which can be hit or miss. Really you want to understand the environment their customer operates in.

Demographic data can be helpful to do this. Details like industry, title, and company size help provide context for the customer you’re trying to reach.

If I got the chance to speak with the client, I liked asking about their customer personas (if they have them). Some companies get so specific they imagine what television shows their customers watch.

3. Ask about the problem they are solving

They’ll want to jump into the product/features etc. Don’t.

Understand the problem their customers face, especially with B2B technical products. Remember you’re a marketer, not a CIO. The technical nuances of a product rarely sell it.

It’s likely a product may address a number of problems. Depending on the goals of the campaign, you could explore each one. But if you’ve only got one shot (say a single ad buy), try to find the core problem. This is usually stuffed in some company mission statement.

4. Get the company history

They’ll usually drag and drop the boilerplate from an “about” page. Still, it’s useful to pose the question as they may add more details than what is publically known.

Great creative angles come from an interesting founding story.

Garage startups, apples falling off trees, that type of stuff. If I had to boil all my marketing knowledge to one statement: Stories WORK!

5. Ask for a customer testimonial

These are like a copywriter’s silver bullets. Testimonials sell better than clever writing or big concepts. Think Amazon reviews — or how Amazon review used to be.

If you can, ask to talk to a current customer. It’s rare, but it’s powerful. Plus, you can parlay that conversation into more sponsored content. Think: customer case studies and transcribed interviews. All of which is great content for your sponsor.

6. Know what you CANNOT say

This was a question that we added to the brief after a few costly mistakes. No matter how thorough your onboarding is, details will go unshared. Most don’t matter — except those that absolutely do.

You should have a question(s) about what you cannot say. Whether for legal reasons or client comfortability. Ask the client to voice any possible issues or concerns before a single sentence is written.

It WILL save your ass.

7. Ask to see other Ads w/performance.

It’s likely your client has worked with other advertisers. Learn from that work.

It can save you from trying angles that have flopped in the past.

TIP: If they’ve got a past winner and share it — use it!

8. Notes on the brief itself:

•Give Instructions
• Use Google Docs or a form. (no pdfs, word docs, etc.)
•See #1 again!
•It should be able to be completed in <1 hour. It’s not a project or a test.

⭐️ Last thing: make it fun

We’d mess around with some light-hearted get-to-know-you questions here and there.

For us, it built rapport and reflected The Hustle’s culture at the time.

Either way, sharing a creative brief with these questions and clear instructions will uplevel your operation. The next step is writing the placement. The hard part.

But I’ll give you some help.

After writing over 1,000 ads I developed a repeatable process to produce any piece of copy in 61 minutes. Yep, just a minute over the hour mark. You can do it too. See the framework.

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