Fish where the fish are.

Let’s start with a light chuckle, at my expense.

On Thursday, March 17 (which will remain the official post date for this post), I had a full day, starting with an early meeting in my office. I got up (in the dark, because Daylight Savings Time…), made coffee, got ready, tidied up this post, hit “Publish,” and raced out the door. I had back-to-back meetings and calls all day, raced home at 5:30 to squeeze in a quick workout (haven’t missed a day since July 2021, which is helping me stay reasonably sane), and then joined neighbors and friends on a lovely almost-spring day to drink green beer, eat delicious Irish food, and enjoy what I believe will be only a brief reprieve from COVID.

You might be wondering: If I hit “Publish” more than 24 hours ago, then why are you just now reading? Because, silly, it’s a two-step process, just like so many online bill pay systems. There’s the action (“Publish,” “Pay,” etc.) and then the confirmation (“Are you sure?”). I was moving too fast and didn’t confirm the post. If you get these posts by email, then you’ll be getting two today, though I’ll space them out a bit.

Here’s the post from the 17th. Note that I’ll go back in a week or so and delete all of this intro, so enjoy being an insider if you’re reading this ridiculous preamble.

Before jumping into today’s segment of the creative brief, I’ll repeat, just to be clear: I accept the depressing current world reality, and I choose to keep doing my thing anyway, in the spirit of companionship. Onward.

One advantage to getting older (old enough to have a full head of silver hair) is living with an ever-expanding portfolio of quips and sayings that accumulate over years. Some of these pearls of wisdom patina better than others over time.

As I’ve written before, I keep a folder (several folders, actually) of articles, tips, sayings, quotes, and other bits of history. I rifled through that folder to prepare for writing this short series on creative briefs, knowing I would find, in that folder, the actual paper handouts from the workshop I taught for many years at a trade show for trade show people.

Did I realize it had been 20 years, exactly, since I last taught this workshop in person? I did not. And I wouldn’t have learned that if I’d just opened the file in my computer archive instead of dragging out the actual paper copy of the handout I wrote.

While leafing through the folder of accumulated stuff, I also found a yellowing sheet of newsprint, a remnant from a past life that reminded me to include a concept that’s critically important for today’s segment (target audience): Fish where the fish are. I’ll explain. Also, I’m reminded that bangs, like kitten heels, are always a regrettable decision.

In preparing a creative brief (or vision brief, or working framework, or whatever you, ultimately, might decide to call your version of this outline I’m offering), identifying your intended audience is the equivalent of painting the bullseye in the middle of your target. If you cannot precisely describe who you’re trying to reach, who will need to take specific action to fulfill your desired objective, you cannot succeed in your work.

I started yesterday with the dinner rut example, and that example will oversimplify the “target audience” step, but I’ll put the two together anyway:

Objective/Purpose Statement: The goal of this work is to create a special dinner, one night every week, that will be enjoyable for me [and my partner, and my children, and my roommate…] and that will feed us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. If this project is successful, then [my family and I] will have a fun, creative, Sunday night dinner routine that is nourishing in every way, from start to finish.

The “target audience” in this example includes everyone who will be at the table — including, in this specific example, the person doing the work (you!). (That last detail will be a connector for the next round of this work, by the way.)

Get very specific when describing and detailing the people in your target audience. The more precise your description, the better you’ll be able to craft work that will be attractive to and meaningful to that audience. You’ll be able to FISH WHERE THE FISH ARE!

Simple enough? Awesome. Next up: “Action Desired.” We’ll tackle that tomorrow. See you then.


  1. I keep looking at pictures of friends on social media without masks thinking they are safe… I just know I’m not going to be working much by the time June rolls around.


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