Friday, April 28, 2006

tools: the programs brief

At some point in the go-to-market process you need to explain yourself to individuals who haven't been as intimiately involved in the "act of creation" as you've been. These individuals are experts at arcane crafts such as "demand generation" and "copywriting" and "event planning", crafts you don't need (or want) to master yourself.

These individuals haven't eaten and slept "your project" for the last six months. They can't read your mind. They know little to nothing about the subtle glory of your #1 feature, or why you decided to build the darned thing in the first place.

You need to tell them, in a concise way, exactly what is compelling about your release. You need. . .to write it down for them. Seems pretty basic, but it's easy to miss.

Every organization has some version of what I'll call "the programs brief". It's a document that breaks down what your unique value proposition is, who you're targeting, how you want to measure success, and some compelling business justification for the above.

Even late on a Friday night, a few drinks past dinner, my mind is still twitching from the exercise of writing one this week in collaboration with my lead marcom director. To her credit, she asked the right questions, didn't settle for glib answers, and insisted on coming to closure on the quantitiative measures that we'd use to track success.

Having gone through that exercise, I now know that everyone who reads it will be using the same "value vocabulary" that the customer needs to hear. Whether I am right or wrong, at least we will be consistent. And consistency is the core requirement of campaign management. Without it, any metrics we create can't be trusted, and any attempt we make at implementing an integrated campaign will fall flat on its ass.

Whatever the format you use, make sure to capture the current and desired rational mindset of your ideal prospect at the very end of the brief. If you've done a good job of documenting why the features matter from a business perspective, you'll have left marcom the facts they need.

If they don't, they will either a) do nothing b) do something wrong. Pray for A. Better yet, write the programs brief.

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