Thursday, August 25, 2011

Project Blueprints Work

By Margie Church, copywriter/editor

One of our best practices is to gain understanding and agreement from the client before the project begins. A project blueprint is a simple tool we consistently use to achieve that. 

After a project launch call, everything we've heard in that conversation gets sorted out and written into the blueprint template. Then it's sent to the client. I've sometimes been accused of being too thorough. I've had managers squint at my project blueprints and ask for the Reader's Digest version. And I've had some tell me I was making the reports they wrote look bad. The latter group always makes me laugh.

Gotta-have-it Information
Your blueprint doesn't have to be complicated, but it must have the salient points to get your project on track and keep it there. Here's a short list of basics:
  •  Objective
  • Audience
  • Budget
  • Offer and/or primary message
  • Customer benefit
  • Call to action. I can't stress enough the importance of telling people what to do. It's often forgotten, along with adequate contact information. 
  •  Due date
Pinpoint is a creative resource, so we also ask our credit union clients questions such as these:
  • What is the overall tone of the piece? A phrase such as cutting-edge will have an explanation of what the client describes as cutting-edge.
  •  What are the supporting copy points?
  • There will be several questions about design, including color and graphical preferences.
We add and subtract questions depending on the situation. The first time we speak with a new client, we'll spend all the time necessary learning about their credit union. We want to understand its membership demographics, and branding strategies. 

We seek the client's opinions on all kinds of subjects, including what's going to work and what  will get panned by management. We're interested in helping them be successful every time and in-depth questions help us achieve that goal. By the end of the conversation, our client knows their business is important to us.

If you're an internal marketing or communications manager, you can use a project blueprint to get agreement from your staff before you start working with your creative resources, aka spend money. You're much likelier to deliver on time and on budget by using a document such as this. It's also an excellent place to look for answers if things go awry. 

Creative blueprints work smoothly for Pinpoint Direct Marketing's clients. Do you use creative blueprints at your CU? How have they been received? Are they a crucial element in your planning or an after-thought? Share your experiences so we can learn from each other.

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