How to concept a 360 campaign

Copywriting 101: How to Concept a 360 Campaign

At some point in your career, you’re going to find yourself faced with the enormous task of concepting a 360 campaign. While it always sounds intimidating — even if you’ve done them before — there are a few fail-proof steps you can take toward finding your final concept and solving your messaging. 

1. Consult with the marketing team and solidify your brief

The set-up for any successful 360 campaign starts with a strong brief and thorough analytics from the marketing team. Ask them about:

  • The competition - What has done well for other companies? How do we try to make our campaign better?
  • The past - Discuss where your company has been, what flopped, and what seems to do well.
  • The customer - Which segment of your audience are you trying to reach with this campaign?
  • The ultimate goal of this campaign - Whether it’s to grow an audience, sell a new product or reveal a branding update, the goal must be clear and succinct. It will act as the north star for your creative team.

Remember: always refer to the brief when making decisions and ask questions upfront. It’ll avoid confusion or derailment along the way.

2. Brainstorm alone

While keeping your north star goal in mind, take several hours to dive deep into brainstorming concepts. Ask yourself: 

  • How do I make this campaign timely? Think about what the customer likes, dislikes, or is likely going through right now. You want to be sensitive to current events and colloquialisms, knowing what’s on-trend and what to stay away from. Need help putting your finger to the pulse? Ask your social media manager!
  • What does the customer need or want to hear? Appeal to their needs without being too pushy and attract their attention without shouting. Find the delicate balance between extremes—unless your company is all about extremes! In that case, push the envelope without angering people. You want to entice, not push people away.
  • What other verbal styling tools can I use to grab attention? Think humor, poetry, frankness, statistics, sarcasm, education, etc. Choosing a tool can help you channel your messaging into quicker one-liners that are catchy for readers.

Remember: half of your work is always done when you have an established brand book as your guide. You already know your company’s tone and voice along with words your brand never uses. Each campaign you create should be filtered through that firm verbal lens. 

3. Brainstorm with your creative team

When you get together with your designers, use them as a sounding board for your brainstormed concepts. Ask the group: 

  • Which overarching ideas have legs? For example, if you’re concepting a "Back to School" campaign, is marketing looking to inspire confidence? Or simply to teach what’s on trend? Both? Get specific about which concept can deliver what the brief is asking for.
  • Which ideas will yield the best visuals? The most successful copywriters know their words mean nothing without clever designers (and vice versa). Pressure-test your words with their ideas for imagery and see what stands out above the rest. 

Together, take an hour or two to create 2-3 concepts, establishing a master tagline for each, along with several mock-ups across digital, print, and social media.

Remember: be able to back up all your creative decisions with goals from the original brief. Not every great idea is meant for this 360-campaign. Keep any unused ideas for future concepts.

4. Flesh out your concept verbally

Once you’ve already decided on a concept with marketing and creative on board and have your brand book handy, this step is the application process. Apply your concept thoughtfully across assets while keeping these tips in mind: 

  • Start with long form pieces. You want to draft larger, complicated pieces first in order to refine and get more concise later. Start with your direct mail books, articles, or email series to create a structure for your messaging and to get a feel for how your copy fits.
  • Work closely with design and get feedback. See where you can shorten or strengthen your copy across assets. Don’t shoehorn a tagline into, say, an Instagram story, if it doesn’t belong there. Save it for another asset in the series or for a future project. 
  • Finish with short pieces, like digital ads. The beauty of starting with and getting long-form pieces approved is that it’s immediately clear which phrases have staying power. It’s always harder to create quippy lines from scratch. Whittling them down from long-form is a great way to stay within your concept and not waste time.
Remember: Though your team has set out with a concept you all believe in, the true test will be how the customer responds. Be sure to gather results from your marketing and analytics teams so that your next 360-campaign can build on the work you’ve already done. 

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