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Working with Graphic Designers: Getting Greater Creativity from your Advertising Agency

One of the key aspects in producing great advertising is the quality of the original briefing.

This article gives you a structure to use when speaking to agencies or designers, whether it’s advertising, leaflets, websites or any other marketing items.

Describe the Audience

Provide as much detail as possible with clear descriptions, e.g. ‘single males aged 25 to 35 who enjoy reading quality newspapers, take a short break every year with their friends to somewhere like Prague and have a two week holiday in the sun. They live in a 2-bedroom apartment in the city centre and drive a …’. Cut an image out of a newspaper or magazine and show it to them if that helps.

Explain the Customer’s Buying Processes

The buying process refers to the steps that someone goes through before they make a purchase and the most important factors in each stage.

Buyers generally follow a process known as AIDA, which stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action. Originally developed by Strong in 1925 for training salespeople (as cited in Marketing Communications by C. Fill, FT Prentice-Hall), it works equally well today in explaining how advertising works.

For example, they may see an advert first (awareness), which leads to a website visit (interest). If the site is of interest they may call with some queries they want to resolve (desire) before they buy (action).

Say What you Want the Audience to Do or Think

Now you’ve identified the buying process you can specify exactly what role the item plays in the overall process, whether that’s generating awareness, maintaining and developing interest, convincing them to buy or some other purpose.

Explain the Unique Selling Points (USP)

What is it about your product or service that makes it stand out from competitors or other similar products? Identify your USPs by looking at each feature of your product and asking the question; “what does that mean for my customers?”. The answer is a benefit you provide. If your benefits are better than your competitor’s benefits, you have a Unique Selling Point. If they’re not, keep asking until you find something.

Your marketing item should clearly state the USPs relevant to a specific stage in the purchase process, for that particular audience. Don’t say “we sell widgets”, if you’re advertising in a widget magazine. Instead, say “our widgets come with a money-back guarantee”, or whatever the most powerful USP for that audience happens to be.

Give the Full Picture

Following these steps should help ensure that the initial concepts your designer or agency creates meet your requirements. However, to provide a complete picture you should also provide the following;

  • Budget – tell the designer or agency how much you can afford to spend on the item. If you only have a few hundred dollars they’ll know not to suggest an all-singing, all-dancing ecommerce website and a full 16 page portfolio to accompany it.
  • Specific requirements – if you want your logo displayed in a certain way or a sales phrase included, tell them at the briefing, before they start work on the piece. Similarly, if you have specific text or small print which must be included, let them know at the start so they can build it into their ideas.

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