When designing a marketing piece (and almost every piece is a marketing piece, really), a smart designer goes into the design process well armed with some knowledge of the client’s business, their marketing strategy, and how they interact withe their customer base. The way to gain that knowledge is with a thorough creative brief that contains questions about how the business is marketed. Here are a few sample questions to get you started in the right direction.
Who is your target market?
This is a vitally important question in any marketing or advertising endeavor. Sometimes the answer may seem evident from the product itself, but it’s worth asking anyway, because you may discover that the client has more detailed information to add to what you already know, or there may be secondary and tertiary markets that they are trying to appeal to.
How do your current customers find you?
A look at where the business’s current customers are coming from can provide a huge amount of insight for any marketing initiative. If most of the client’s customers are coming from a single source (such as a useful feature on their website, a free information piece, or a trade event), it may be worth using the marketing piece to drive new customers to that source, or attempting to reach an audience that doesn’t access that source.
What marketing campaigns have been successful for you in the past?
You don’t need to start from scratch for every marketing piece. If the business has seen success from some of their previous campaigns, you can use this information to gain insight into how they are perceived by their customers, or what the customer values in their product. Building on previous successes increases the chances that you will design a marketing piece that is even more successful.
What marketing campaigns have been unsuccessful for you in the past?
Similarly, looking at the results of their past initiatives can help you avoid repeating past mistakes. It’s almost foolish to go into a project without knowing this, and a lot of information can be gleaned from these failed attempts.
What do your customers love about your product/service?
Any good coach will tell you to play to your strengths. Similarly, a marketing piece should be sure to highlight the elements or features that existing clients find most satisfying or beneficial. Most businesses have received enough feedback to be able to readily provide this information.
What complaints do your customers have about your product/service?
There are a couple of really good reasons to find out what clients dislike about a product or service. The first reason is to preemptively mitigate concerns about these aspects of the product (such as how Buckley’s Cough Syrup advertises that it “Tastes awful, but it works”), and the second is the opportunity to turn the negative into a positive. A great example of this is when Guinness used clever marketing to turn a liability (how long Guinness takes to pour) into a strength (a ritual that ensures the “perfect pint”) that resulted in a huge boost in sales.
What problem(s) does your product solve?
Customers usually relate more to a problem than a solution, so this knowledge can provide the focus for a campaign. Again, this may seem obvious for some products or services, but having a conversation about it can sometimes bring out additional benefits that you may not have thought of.
How do you communicate with your existing customers?
This is the age of communication, and many businesses try to build loyalty and repeat business through newsletters, social media, blogs, forums, etc. This is a marketing campaign in itself, so knowing what strategies they are using allows you to integrate them into the marketing pieces you’re designing.