MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2023

Creative Briefs are Your Friend: Streamlining the Creative Process

Do you work from a clear, concise creative brief?

Bryan Smith, B2B marketing executive, spoke to a packed house at B2B Forum in 2023.

He hammered on the importance of a quality creative brief and how it helps everyone stay aligned on a project.

Watch the video or read the transcript below.

And for more insights on creating a great place for marketers to work, check out the program for B2B Forum this coming Oct 4-6, 2023 in Boston.


How do we as B2B marketers create connections, real connections, get past “just the MQL,” and how do we communicate with people again, right?

What we’re gonna talk about today is the practical side of, “how do we actually do that? How do we get creatives to understand our business and create breakthrough storytelling imagery and creative execution that’s gonna help us connect with those customers in a meaningful way?”

I love it when a plan comes together. And it really, to me, all starts with a creative brief. A good brief is going to allow you to streamline that process so you’re not doing as much reviewing, you’re getting what you need out of ’em, and you’re getting the best out of those creatives.

So what is a creative brief? Well, it’s really a blueprint. It’s a blueprint for what you’re looking for out of your creative, whatever the execution is.

First thing you need to lay out is, what are you trying to do? What is the objective for this execution?

It’s gotta be simple. Ideally, you use the old school SMART thing: It’s specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based.

Who is your target? What makes them tick? What problems are we solving for that person? And what do they believe—real or perceived, doesn’t matter—but what do they believe that might prevent them from acting on your message?

Don’t be mad if they believe something that’s not true. It’s not their fault. It’s our job to help them get over it.

And then there’s the insight. And this is something that can be really difficult to get at. But it is that critical thing, the thread that you pull that makes people want to take an action.

Then the key message. Okay, so you have this insight, but what do you really want people to think, or do, or say as part of this? That needs to be in that brief as well.

And then finally, just the details, like, when do you want this to happen? How much money are you gonna spend? Where are the key milestones? What are you actually expecting? Is it deliverable?

Here’s where the brief becomes powerful. If you’ve written this amazing brief, everybody’s on board and everybody’s aligned.

Now you can use this brief as you go through the evaluation and feedback process of your creative.

Design is not art. All right? As creatives in business, we are in the design business, not the art business.

Art is for its own sake. It’s subjective. It’s based on the perspective of the artist. It fulfills their vision. It’s whatever they want it to be.

Design has a purpose and an outcome that it’s going for. It can be artfully done, to be sure, but it has to be based on truths, and it has to fulfill whatever you have in the brief.

And that is where the brief becomes that source of truth for the design. So as you prepare for the feedback… When I evaluate creative, I take my brief and whatever I’m looking at, and I put ’em both on my desk and I literally go through the brief and try to find what about the creative is either supportive of what we are trying to do, or detractive of that.

Anyway, good feedback, kind and honest, right? Don’t try to spare the creative’s feelings. This ain’t their first rodeo, right? They know what they’re doing. Just be straight, but kind.

So: dos and don’ts.

Write a great brief and ensure your creatives understand the brief, and have time to ask your questions. Evaluate your creative based on the brief. Provide really clear, honest feedback, and frame it in the brief. And then, make sure you’re aligned.

Don’t be subjective. Don’t micromanage creatives. And don’t provide vague, unclear, and stupid feedback.

So, that’s really kind of the three steps, from my perspective, of how to get the most out of your creatives. Let them do their thing. This is about enabling great work. It’s about inspiring great work. It’s not about managing great work.

Does this ring true in your experience, either as a creative or as a manager?

Bryan Smith’s session was just one of the sessions on creating a better workplace at 2022’s B2B Forum.

To create more joy and success in your marketing, join us at B2B Forum in Boston, October 4-6, 2023.

Bring your whole team—groups of 3 or more people get discounted team rates.

But don’t delay—tickets are limited and the popular, workshop-included All Access Passes are going quickly! Check out the program and get your tickets here.




Published 5/17/23

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