How to Get the Most out of Creative Conferences:
A Nifty Tool for Getting the Background Information You Need from Your Clients … Every Time, Part 1
Early in my career, at the outset of each assignment, I found that I was asking each new client a set of similar questions in order to obtain the background data and materials I needed to write the package.
So in the late 1970s, I devised a checklist I called a “New Project Discussion Agenda.” Over the years, others have borrowed and adapted it. It has been reprinted numerous times in direct-marketing books and trade publications – with and without attribution.
The Agenda is a working tool. It does not pretend to be exhaustive, nor will every question apply to every product. I developed it for my copywriting for subscription newsletters and other information products. But you can adapt it for virtually any niche. It serves as a useful checklist, and may help ensure that no critical item is forgotten.
The ideal source for this information is your client: the product manager, sales director, editor, owner, or someone else in the company who is knowledgeable.
In section “A” of the Agenda, I grouped what I regard to be the most significant items. And Question #4 is perhaps the most likely to generate valuable creative ideas.
The Agenda is too extensive to cover in one article, so I’m going to give you the “A” section now and the remainder next week.
A. PROJECT FUNDAMENTALS:
What is the product’s Unique Selling Proposition?
What is your publication’s concept? Its aim, function, unique selling proposition? How is it “positioned”? Ask the client to complete this sentence: “This is the only resource that …”
What is the competition for this product?
Who are the major competitors? What are their failings? Is there a gap in the marketplace? If so, how does your product fill that gap? What do you offer that’s exclusive?
Who is your market?
Who is the target subscriber or user? What are the ages and gender of the users, their income level, etc.? Such demographic data is an important starting point for getting to know the prospective buyer. But go beyond that, into attitudes, motivations, emotions, behavior, etc. For example, does the prospective investor favor gold? Is he a conservative who is suspicious of big government? Ask the client about the attitudes and mindset of the subscribers. Even better, ask some subscribers directly.
What are the prospect’s biggest concerns, emotions, and needs?
This may be the single most important question to ask. Determine your prospect’s biggest concerns and problems. What keeps him awake at night? What questions, complaints, fears, threats, mistakes, and opportunities does he face? What information or help does he need to deal with them? If it’s a B2B product, what’s the industry climate? What trends, events, hot issues, and new developments are occurring in this field?
How does the product help the reader?
How does it fill a compelling need in your prospect’s life? What are its features? What concrete benefits will he realize?
What is the product’s name?
If this is a new product, you may have a hand in naming it. Find out how the name, subtitle, slogan, and logo reflect its goals.
What are the product’s origins?
Is this a brand-new product or does it have historical roots? Who first created or developed the product? Are there any interesting or compelling stories about its start?
Is there an editorial/marketing plan?
Does your client have any internal documents about the product, its development, its marketing? Ask him to share them with you, in confidence. The more you know, the stronger the promotion you can write.
That’s it for now. Come back next week when we expand our checklist to include questions about the product itself, marketing strategy, offer, and more.
Following this checklist will help you build a stronger, more successful promotion.
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