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Last time, I wrote about the dangers of the ‘cute idea’, and how it sometimes happens that a designer or marketing agency working on a project for you, will come up with a clever, ‘cute’ marketing idea, or design gimmick that, on paper, seems very fun and eye-catching. In reality it doesn’t always work, and you end up with egg on your face, and LOTS of leaflets in your cupboard.

I also explained how, while it’s tempting to blame the designer, it’s probably more likely to be your fault (#sorrynotsorry). I expect your initial briefing likely wasn’t good enough for the designer to get an accurate picture of what you were after, and how to make that idea work for your audience.

So – you might be thinking – MRS KNOWITALL, what should I be including when I’m briefing a designer that I’m not saying now, that would make ALL the difference?

Well. Lucky for you, I’ve put together a mini-checklist so that you can get it right every time from now on.

Here’s the information that I include whenever I’m briefing a designer:

  1. An overview of the marketing strategy

It’s important that your designer understands how the content that you want them to produce sits within your overall marketing strategy, and the general approach you take to marketing. This will stop them from going off down the wrong track. If you have a marketing plan, share the whole thing, or the most relevant parts, with them.

  1. The objective and call to action for this particular piece

Make sure they are clear on what you want the item that they are creating to do. E.g. ‘this direct mail piece has the objective of getting new customers to sign up to our special offer for Easter’. You will also need to tell them the exact action that you want the reader to take, and provide the precise words you want to use for the call to action (plus any related weblinks etc).

  1. Dream Client Profile

Share this with the designer so that they know exactly what kind of person you are targeting in the piece. The more information you share about your Dream Client, the more success you’ll get with your marketing content.

  1. A brand description

If you haven’t worked with this designer before, and they didn’t help to put together the brand identity for your business, you’ll need to give them insight into your brand. What you stand for, the values that you want to communicate to your audience and how you differ from your competitors.

  1. Brand identity guidelines and logo files

If they weren’t created by this designer, make sure that you send them brand guidelines, outlining how to use the logo, the hex numbers for your colour palette, the correct fonts (and font files if necessary), sizing etc, etc. You will need to make sure they have the correct logo for your business too. Keeping this piece consistent with the rest of your marketing will help to deliver a return on investment.

  1. Key Messages Outline

An overview of the messages that you want to communicate to your audience. How you do business, why you do business, what are the triggers for someone to want to work with you, the benefits of working with you, the types of problems that you solve for your customers, the objections they might have to working with you. Highlight the parts that are most pertinent to this project.

  1. Flexible copy, or some Tone of Voice Guidelines.

If you are using a graphic designer, you’ll need to be in charge of drafting the copy yourself. If you are using a full service marketing agency, (or The Marketing Architect) they’ll do this for you.  Be prepared to edit this once it’s in the piece; the writing always looks different from how you imagined it would be once it’s in place. Things that you thought would work, won’t, and extra bits will be needed to make sense of the design.

If someone else is doing the writing, make sure they have a set of Tone of Voice Guidelines, so they can match the style of the content to the rest of your marketing materials. Tone of Voice Guidelines describe the way that you write your copy so that it reflects your brand, and any general dos and don’ts about writing for your business.


I know this sounds like a LOT. But, trust me, you’ll get a much better result that works for you and for your ideal customer, and delivers the objective that you’ve set for the project. And, it’ll be cheaper in the long run because your end piece will do the job you planned for it, instead of being your future door stop/fire hazard.

My clients have all these things available to them because creating them is a standard part of my planning process. This means that even if I’m not working with them for the long haul (though I usually am!) they can get a designer to do a good job for them, based on what I’ve created.

If you’d like to have a chat about assembling any of this kit – and, to be honest, it’s a do once every three years type job – give me a shout, I’d love to help.

Beware Of ‘The Cute Idea’

How To Get A Good Return On Investment In A Marketing Consultant