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I think that was one of Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly annoying people. Not sure. But it certainly applies to creative strategy. Whenever I look at a creative brief and see an objective like… run an spot on 93.5 FM, or create an ad…I become very frustrated. Now, that it is a radio spot or an ad is part of the strategy, but not the important part.

Good strategies begin with the end in mind. Take hill 43. Increase sales by x percent. Make people love us. Stuff like that.
Advertising ought to be about attitude and behavior modification. I use several questions as a starting place:

1. Who are we talking to? Hint, this is never readers of newspaper x or women 16-106. It is as specific as it can be: my neighbor John, as he is sitting in traffic, thinking about dinner in the late afternoon, right before he gets to entrance to Fresh Market, when the day’s high temperature is over 88 and under 98. That’s who.

2. What do we want them to do? Not “buy more stuff.” But, stop right now, on the way home, and pick up some salmon for the grill, some extra-virgin olive oil, and a chilled bottle of Jimmy’s Organic Lemonade.

3. What do they have to know in order to do that? John, it’d be a great night to grill out. At the next right, you can get the fish and the olive oil at one stop. And, on a hot night like this, some Jimmy’s Organic Lemonade would be refreshing…which…by the way, is on sale 2/$5. Turn now!

See where this is headed? When we get lazy, or in a hurry, we tend to write strategy like we’re taking orders at McDonalds. I’ll take an outdoor board, two radio spots, a newspaper ad, and fries. And supersize the newspaper. This doesn’t really help the client. What does help the client is making the cash register ring.

And the ring of the cash register should be the first sound we hear, when we start to write a strategic brief.

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