As marketers, we need to be organized. I don’t think I’ve worked on any team that doesn’t have its own internal library and filing system to keep track of campaigns and projects, because it would be hard to collaborate and get marketing assets out there!
We need centralized, and shared, libraries to store our projects so we all stay on track. But, one of the most important parts of any marketing campaign is the creative brief.
The brief is the go-to document that outlines everything anyone would need to know about a campaign. While the name implies it’ll be brief, the document can actually get rather large. It’s meant to serve as a guide as you have the briefing call or kickoff meeting to start the project and assign roles and responsibilities.
A good creative brief outlines what the campaign is, why it's important, what it's going to do, and how it will be executed. It can also help identify conflicting objectives with other campaigns, scheduling conflicts, misunderstandings about the campaign, and help stop last-minute changes or the adding of additional work (AKA scope creep).
But, can specific channels get their own creative briefs? They sure can! Let’s look at what needs to be included in a direct mail creative brief.
10 elements of a direct mail creative brief
Give your direct mail campaign a name or make sure the team knows what larger marketing initiative this one belongs to. Maybe you’re setting up an evergreen and automated direct mail campaign, such as a birthday or anniversary recognition so the project title is: Birthday promo - direct mail.
Or, maybe you’re running a summertime sale that needs a boost so your project title is tied to the wider campaign: Q3 July Promo - direct mail.
This can help the design team understand if it needs its own distinct look or if it’s supposed to match a design that’s already in-market. It can also help your marketing ops team create the right marketing programs, ensure the right tracking is in place with UTMs, and understand how to measure the success of this mailer.
Write a summary of what the piece of direct mail is supposed to do or what is the team hoping to accomplish. What’s the opportunity here and why is direct mail the right channel? You may also want to note if this is a one-off campaign or if it's part of a larger, omnichannel approach. What other tactics or campaigns will be running alongside this one?
You need to know what's budgeted for this direct mail campaign in case you have to make decisions later about the campaign, such as changing the format or postage class. Account for printing, paper, postage, and spend on the creative elements such as copywriting and design. When talking about the budget with the wider team, you may be able to find ways to cut costs and maximize ROI. Plus, having your budget finalized and listed on your go-to document makes it easier to calculate ROI right away instead of having to hunt down the budget for this campaign in a giant spreadsheet at the end of the year.
Like the description section, what are the goals of this campaign? Drive $1M in sales? Increase repeat purchases by new customers 10%?
Knowing the goals of the campaign can help the copywriters and designers create a piece that works toward those goals and meets expectations. Different types of campaigns will have different goals in mind, which requires different positioning, images, copy, and calls to action. We can't create a campaign when we don't know what the intended outcome is supposed to be.
After outlining your goals, how will you measure if you were successful in achieving them? List out what metrics you’ll be tracking and using to evaluate the success of the direct mail campaign.
Who's responsible in making sure this campaign goes out the door? Who needs to be involved in the approval process? Include anyone who needs to be involved in a list of stakeholders in your creative brief. This most often is a bulleted list, like:
Joe (project owner)
James (marketing operations)
Sales team (informed of project)
Who are you targeting with this direct mail campaign? Current customers? Which segment? A third-party lead list? What are the traits in the list, such as age, gender, geography, income level, job title, etc., that you're targeting?
You have to know who your audience is in order to create a compelling creative and call to action. What does this audience value and want from your brand and how do they prefer to take action? You could be sending a mailer to a segment of customers that like minimal copy and a QR code so they can take action right from their phone. Or, you could be sending a mailer that needs more space to convey the key messages and the CTA is to call and speak to a customer service agent or account manager.
What are the key messages or themes you want to get across to this particular audience? Is there any language your creative team should avoid using? Are there any images your creative team should avoid using? Everyone should understand the core message and action your team expects recipients to take.
You should also make sure you share these key messages with any other teams this could impact. Such as sending a copy of the final creative to the sales team so they know what customers or prospects might be referencing, or the customer support team so they can expect an influx of calls about a new promo, offer, or even product sunsetting or change.
What is the final asset and its specs? Is it a two-page letter or perhaps a self-mailer? What's the bleed? Are there any stipulations on colors that can be used? Does the designer need to save space for personalization variables, such as the recipient's name or a 1:1 QR code?
You should also include any A/B tests you expect to run on the campaign so everyone knows what elements are being tested and how many versions the designers need to create.
What are the key dates for the project? This ties back to the stakeholders and any approval processes in the workflow. You'll want to share your expected in-market date so everyone can stay on top of deadlines and due dates with their respective responsibilities. You may also include here a link to the project in your project management tool so everyone can see how the campaign is progressing.
A timeline might look like:
September 1 - Kickoff and review creative brief (Joe)
September 8 - Copy review (Rachel)
September 15 - Design review (Olivia)
September 22 - Marketing program created (James)
September 25 - Final review (Todd)
October 10 - In-market
Get creative with your direct mail and deliver results
Did you know that 74% of marketers agree that direct mail delivers the best ROI of any channel used - up from 67% in 2021? Now that you know, and you know how to create a direct mail creative brief, if you want to dive deeper into direct mail and learn how other marketers are using direct mail to achieve their marketing goals and drive conversions, then you'll want to download your copy of the 2023 State of Direct Mail report.
This blog provides general information and discussion about direct mail marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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