Saturday, September 19, 2009

10 Easy Points to Build a Creative Strategy

One document guides a project's scope and goals
A creative strategy is the basis for any successful creative project. This simple document should be your guidepost to a scope of work and project goals that both you and your client can refer to throughout the project cycle.

Often a large client's marketing staff will develop a project brief, but sometimes a smaller client or a junior contact may have no clue about the need for such a document.

A creative strategy is more than a professional courtesy. Provide one after the first fact-finding meeting and you'll demonstrate to the client your ability to think as a strategic partner and your grasp of their initiative.

Plus, a well-crafted creative strategy protects you from "scope creep". Changes to a project are sometimes inevitable but having documentation of the original assignment may be an aid to contract re-negotiation should it come to that. The document, comprehensive enough to spell out your deliverables, deadline, and scope of work should be signed by your client. It is not a contract, it is an understanding that they should nonetheless sign.

I have listed ten things that absolutely should be included to get you started. If any of these insufficient to cover an upcoming project feel free to add to the document. This is just to get you started, and help you polish up your client contact tools.

Here is what should be included by topic:
1. OverviewThe essence of the current state of the product or service. Describe the product or service and what the major benefit or feature of interest is to the donor/customer.

2. Audience—A brief description of the target audience

3. Offer—What will the prospect get and how can they act on the offer?

4. Benefits and Support—What are the main benefits? Support points are features that reinforce the main benefit and offer.

5. Brand Essence—Describe the "brand truth"—how is it perceived in the marketplace?

6. Customer Promise—Describe what the product or service promises to the customer

7. Creative Assignment—
• Communication objective
• To create a web site that motivates audience to click to buy
• Approaches to consider/recommendations
• Initial deliverables (sketches, wireframes, comprehensive layouts)
• Ultimate deliverable (illustration, web site design, brochure, etc.)

8. Budget—Don't leave this out! Any extra costs you foresee, (photography, printing, etc.) are spelled out.

9. Mandatories
• Budget
• Logo usage
• Format and production considerations
• Client preferences
• Graphic Standards or guidelines

10. Timeline—
• Set dates for preliminary the creative review
• Set a date for when you expect comments for this first round
• Do this for every step of the project
• Remember to state that client delays affect the ultimate date

This is a bare-bones approach and you may need to add some items applicable to your clients and your business approach. Clients will appreciate this strategic approach, they want a strategic partner, and you can be that partner growing your business as they grow theirs.


© Copyright 2009 Guy Arceneaux All rights reserved


  1. really great article. Too many freelancers forget this step!

  2. Thank you. I just read your blog about the Utrecht canvas' that "Santa" gave you through Twitter wish list. Really good to hear stories of philanthropic giving.
    Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!


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