How to Write a Creative Strategy: Strategy Outline

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1 How to Write a Creative Strategy: Strategy Outline April There are many ways to write a strategy statement, but this outline has stood the test of time. The key is to identify the: Purpose of the advertising, or direct mail, or brochure Target audience Benefit (or claim) Support or reason why that benefit or claim is meaningful to the Target Audience Media or means of delivering the message Key insight or crushing statistic, often some blinding light that illuminates the whole idea Credit is given to the work of Dr. William Wells for DDB Needham on structuring this effort in a book titled ROI Guidebook, copyright, 1991, DDB Needham and later published by Prentice-Hall. On the following pages are a one-page outline that may help you present the strategy simply and concisely and strategic checklists to be used as an aid in developing strategic decisions. CONCLUSION Don't assume anything. Start each strategy outline with a fresh, even combative frame of mind. Last year's solution may be right, very right. But challenge it. Start with the research. Re-read it. Better yet, do new research, even if that research is just a review of the available information or a trip to a few stores or calls to a few customers. Look for changes, little trends. Look for ways to anticipate what the changes may be foretelling. Don't start by writing the commercial or ad or brochure. Deadlines often make anyone in this business think it's best to get started writing. Wrong. Start thinking. Think strategy. Force yourself through the steps and, when finished, make sure everyone involved at the agency signs the strategy. No strategy should go to the client that the creative department, in particular, has not signed. But, it's also important that media, research and agency management agree. Then, present the strategy document to the client and get it signed and dated. That's the purpose of the following page. Use it.

2 STRATEGY OUTLINE Purpose of the advertising (Be as specific as possible: buy this, go to that store, vote for this person, pick up the telephone, go to a meeting. Often it is valuable to add what you want the target to do instead of something else.) Target audience (Define in terms of demographics, psychographics, purchase habits, satisfactions or dissatisfactions and any other data.) Benefit or Claim (What is the benefit to the target that will cause the target audience to take the action desired?) Support (Prove the benefit or claim with research, testimonials, sales figures, etc.) Media (How will the message be delivered?) Key insight (Often there is a central fact, an insight from research, some new understanding that enhances and vitalizes the strategy.) 2

3 STRATEGIC CHECKLIST The Purpose Criteria: Enough Leverage Spending Product Alternative Purposes of Them? to do so? to do so? Satisfy? Retain current users Attract users of competitive brands Expand category by attracting non-users Increase frequency Increase trial Increase awareness Others Recommended Purpose: Why? 3

4 STRATEGIC CHECKLIST Target Audience Criteria: Category Attitude Economic Ability Alternative Targets Size Use? toward brand ability to buy to reach (describe) Recommended Target: Why? 4

5 STRATEGIC CHECKLIST Key Benefit Criteria: Solves Leverage Supportable Key Importance Target's vs. by Benefits: to Target? Problem? Competition? Product? Exclusivity Recommended Benefit: Why? 5

6 STRATEGIC CHECKLIST Support Criteria: Leverage Supportable Possible Importance vs. by Supports: to Target? Competition? Product? Exclusivity Recommended Support(s): Why? 6

7 STRATEGIC CHECKLIST: MEDIA Criteria Media Appropriate for Suitable for Conveying Adequate Alternatives: Target? Key Benefit? Support? Budget? Recommended Media: Why? 7

8 STRATEGY CHECKLIST Key Insight Supports Appeals to Supports Insight Purpose? Target Audience? Benefit? Why is the Key Insight important: 8

9 STRATEGY OUTLINE Purpose of the Advertising Target Audience Benefit or Claim Support Media Key Insight Recommended by (Agency) Accepted by (Client) Signed Date Signed Date 9

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