Stop! Don’t start on that next project until you can answer this

It’s January and chances are you are working hard to get the year off to a good start. You may be in charge of creating something–a newsletter, a flyer, an ad–that is intended to achieve a communications or marketing objective. It may be to publicize an upcoming event or perhaps to solicit support for a cause or maybe you are advocating for a policy change. We’ll assume that this project is part of a larger strategy and will help further your overall communications goals.


Before you start any marketing/communications  project you should be able to answer these five questions:

1. What is the main objective for the piece? Or ask yourself this:  What do you want the audience to do with this piece?

2. Who is the target audience? Really, who is it? Be specific.

3. What are the top three messages you want to convey?

4. Knowing who the target is, what is the best way to communicate your message? Will you use graphics? Which ones? What kind of language will you use?

5. Has this piece been done before? If so, why are you doing it again? What was it that worked or didn’t work before? If not, why are you doing it now?

This may seem obvious to some, simplistic to others, but surprisingly, many people trying to create communications aren’t able to answer these questions.  Why else do you think we are inundated with useless letters, flyers and brochures? Even if you are a pro, doing this exercise will help you to create a better product, guaranteed!

What is your process for getting communications projects done? Please share!




About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

1 thought on “Stop! Don’t start on that next project until you can answer this”

  1. I can tell you from experience as a good designer and damn good writer, I’ve done some lovely pieces that were absolutely worthless. Why? Wrong audience, wrong message, wrong pitch, wrong product, wrong image, wrong medium .. you get the point. If it’s a print consumer, why are you investing $ in the website, trying to change that? Why are you producing pieces that get old? Why are you sending this stuff to the same people who’ve not bought from you the last 5 times you sent this??!! Gee whiz I could rant forever on the newsletter alone.

    WHY. Why is my most asked question, along with “and? and? what else?” Too often businesses either fall into ruts – new year, new brochure – do things out of habit; and/or they are very chicken/egg with their efforts, never asking these kind of questions, working backwards. Why is that audience better? Why is that offer the right one for them? Why should they care? Why a FB campaign? Why is this tactic better for your biz, why will it make a difference? And FWIW, ‘we want to sell stuff’ really shouldn’t be your only ‘why.’

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