Begin With a Brief

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Writing a solid brief can put your marketing strategies on solid ground.

The pace at which we push or publish our marketing efforts to our trade areas in automotive is staggering. Ever-changing market conditions and consumer insights have many of us in “reactive strategies” rather than well thought out “pre-emptive” plans. We regularly communicate our marketing needs to each other at the dealership (or to our vendors) with broad simplicity: “We’re having a three-day private sale.”

I’m embellishing a bit here, but I’ve been on the receiving end of this myself and had the daunting task of making something out of nothing. The hope was that I could create the right campaign or tactic out of the least amount of information possible. Coming from the agency world, I had a very simple but powerful tool that I could always count on to align the stakeholders ask with the tactics so my team could move cleanly into execution. It was “The Brief.”

A critical first step

In an agency environment, nothing starts without a brief. This ensures that the ask is properly defined, key insights on the intended market/audience are shared and how the campaign will be measured for its return on the investment. At any time during the planning and execution of a campaign or tactic the brief can always be revisited to ensure that all collaborating parties are in sync. Most agencies’ cultures don’t allow any work to start until a brief is delivered to the team responsible for the work. It’s simply that important.

As I stated earlier, it’s all too easy to move into market without much foresight in the spirit of speed or reaction to market behaviour. We throw messages, offers, and inventory, blindly into the channels and hope for the best. Yeah, we’re still doing that… a lot. So how can your dealership internally and externally add some mindfulness to its strategies?

Start with a brief

If you are working with an internal or external marketing arm, this simple document will ensure all parties are looking at the strategy with alignment and the potential to evolve your messaging in a way that wasn’t realized through being reactive.

I have used a basic template for every brief I have ever written. This allows me to expand it, or simplify it, based on the nature of the ask. I’m going to share it in the hopes that you take it back to your teams and the foundation of your marketing process.

In a simple document fill out the necessary information/answer the following questions:

  • Project Name / Date / Brief Author
  • Key description of the project.
  • What problem are we solving?
  • Who is the consumer we are problem-solving for (client/prospect)?
  • What’s the consumer insight?
  • What facts and emotional reasons will make people buy / convert?
  • What are the key points that need to be communicated to the consumer? What will make buyers believe us?
  • What channels and tactics will we use to communicate the message?
  • What should be the tone of the messaging?
  • What action do we want people to take after viewing the marketing?
  • What are the goals of the project? How will we measure success?
  • Who is the competition?
  • Timeline to launch
  • Check-ins & approval dates

Once you have this document fleshed out to your liking, take it back to the core stakeholders for approval. This is most important as the strategy must have buy-in from leadership before taking your team or vendor through it. Then sit down with all parties who will be involved with planning and execution and ensure that everyone understands the details in the brief and has opportunities to ask any questions.

Build upon a solid foundation

Some of you may be thinking that this is too much effort for every tactic or campaign you launch into your trade area, but try to look at it another way. How much of your marketing is being released without any consistent process and how much of its success is being accounted for properly? Leveraging a brief as the foundation of your strategies will go a long way in evolving the marketing your dealership is placing in front of consumers.

As my old agency partner, Barry Hillier often said, “The more time you spend developing the brief, the stronger the ideas, strategy and final product will be.” Get back to basics; start with the brief.

Categories : Dealerships

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