If you’re new here, welcome. If you’re here after being away for a while, and you’re wondering what’s on the slate today, then I’ll give a quick intro. A few days ago I offered a short introduction to the creative brief, one of my favorite, time-tested tools that I’ve adapted to use in many different situations outside of actual creative marketing work.
Is this a boring series? Maybe; maybe not. It’s definitely something different from what you’ve found here in this little corner of ordinary life for the past 10 years. And if it’s not for you, then skip a few days and come back later. You’re always welcome.
Why this series of work right now? Hmmm. You’ll have to trust the process and stick with it to discover the secret. No, it isn’t directly related to the horrific war in Ukraine, the dying planet, or the crumbling U.S. democracy. Then again, you might find that it’s somehow connected to all of those things, plus a few more that are of this moment in time.
I gave the full outline in that first post, and now we’re working through it item by item over a number of days. And then, guess what? We’ll do the whole thing a second time, in a different way.
If you’re going to do this work along with me, then you’ll need to pick a focus area, a problem you’d like to work on. My advice, again, is to pick something low stakes, like preparing dinner or rearranging a room in your home. This is a practice round. Don’t overthink it.
So far we’ve looked at setting a clear objective (start with the end in mind) and identifying a target audience. Today we’re going to look at the third of eight elements, the ridiculously labeled “Action Desired.”
(Remember, this template we’re using in round one is exactly the same template I used when I taught a creative strategy workshop years ago. In round two I’m going to shake it up a bit. You’ll see, if you stick around. But you won’t understand round two if you don’t slog through round one.)
“Action Desired,” stated simply, is just what you want people (your target audience) to do. What exactly do you want them to do?
I have a friend who works in fundraising, and one of his favorite sayings is this: If we’re going to hit our goal, then somebody’s going to have to ask for some f-ing money and get a check to bring back.
That right there, “ask for some f-ing money…” is a very clear “Action desired,” though it’s not the action most development/marketing people think of when creating campaigns. But for someone to give money to a cause, oftentimes another person has to ask for the donation.
In any case, if any campaign, project, or initiative is going to be successful, then a specific person has to take a specific action. And if you’re the person wanting something to happen, then being crystal clear about what you want is essential.
To carry my dinner example forward, if the goal is to create a special meal, one night every week, that will be physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally enjoyable for [target audience people], then a first pass at writing the “action desired” might read:
Eat dinner together on Sunday night.
It could be a lot more specific, though, couldn’t it? What exactly do I want the people living in my house (my target audience, for this example), to do as part of this magical once-a-week dinner?
If you’re in the overachiever club (…) then you might write a second draft that reads something like: Eat dinner together, all in one place, at the same time, on Sunday night. Give input, prior to our weekly dinner, about what we’ll cook together; help gather and prepare the ingredients beforehand; help prepare/serve the meal; eat with enthusiasm; contribute to enjoyable dinner table conversation; help clean up afterward.
You’re reading that and thinking, perhaps, “that’s more than one ‘action desired.'” Indeed, you are correct. So, what’s the most essential part of that statement? How about: To eat a Sunday night shared meal with enthusiasm and contribute to enjoyable dinner conversation while we’re together eating.
Taking a larger view, now that we’ve covered the basics of the first three steps, you might be thinking that getting the creative brief (or whatever we’ll call it, eventually) right requires writing and revising until what’s written describes precisely and concisely the essential information, nothing more and nothing less.
You’d be right in thinking that thought. This is work, but it’s work worth doing. You’ll see.
So, quick recap, using my silly example:
Objective/Purpose Statement: The goal of this work is to create a special dinner, one night every week, on Sunday night, 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.
Target Audience: The humans living in my home, right now.
Action Desired (second draft): To eat the shared Sunday night meal with enthusiasm and to participate actively in pleasant dinner conversation while we’re together eating.
Back at it tomorrow — and, because it will be Saturday, I’ll have a bonus postscript of some recipe links. See you then.
P.S. If you read the post title and started singing, even just in your head, then you are my people, and I love you.