The dreaded “I just want a brochure” syndrome.

In my travels around the country for the Association of National Advertisers teaching creative brief writing, marketers share their headaches about the document and the process. 

Near the top of the list: “I have trouble getting what I want so I end up just telling my ad agency/in-house design department to give me what I want.”

It’s frighteningly common. Marketers fall easily into this trap of being too prescriptive. They assume that what they want is the best solution. 

They know they’re doing it, too. Their creative briefs serve up solutions rather than provide clear, inspired direction for the best thinking. The first is easy, the second is hard.

How do you wean yourself off this addictive drug? Consider this the next time you feel tempted to solve a creative problem yourself:

How would you respond if a non-marketing person suggested, “Let’s buy Google Adwords and call it a day”?

It’s not about whether Google Adwords is a good or bad choice. It’s the narrowness of the thinking that offends. It’s the presumption that the non-marketer knows what’s best for the brand.

Do you know what good, effective creative is when you see it? Can you name the 10 best and most effective advertising/marketing campaigns in the last five years? 

If you can’t, you don’t know what’s best for your brand because you don’t recognize great thinking when you see it. How can you? You have no frame of reference. You begin to understand how creatives feel when you decide to solve a problem without their input.

More importantly, you’re killing team morale and under-utilizing smart professionals. And you’re doing someone else’s job, one for which you have little expertise.

This is a trust issue. Get more from your creative partners by expecting more. Start by asking for great thinking on your creative briefs rather than trying to do the thinking for them.

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