All Professionals Practice Their Skills: Do You? | Marketing Maestros | Blogs | ANA

All Professionals Practice Their Skills: Do You?

November 13, 2019

By Howard Ibach

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Jerry Seinfeld has told tens of thousands of jokes on stages across the country. Ballet star Misty Copeland has spent thousands of hours in the classroom, working at the ballet barre, all in preparation for her performances. Speaking legend Tony Robbins has rehearsed hours and hours for his presentations.

The same is true for doctors, politicians, gymnasts, coaches, courtroom lawyers — you name the profession, and you can imagine the almost unimaginable hours of preparation these dedicated individuals have devoted to their craft, all to be ready to display their skills when they matter most: on the job.

So I ask you: When was the last time you wrote a “practice” creative brief, or prepared for a creative review?

Here's my guess: Never. You write a brief when you have to write one. You review the work inspired by your creative brief when it’s there in front of you.

And therein lie missed opportunities. If you don’t practice the skills required to write a creative brief well, or review its inspirations, how do you master the skills, much less improve them?

Whether you write one creative brief in a month or three in a week, and whether you review creative work frequently or not, you don’t improve unless you practice. But how do you practice when you barely have time?

Here are three exercises I practice that you can adopt today to hone your creative brief writing and creative reviewing muscles.


Practice in Your Head

The average human is pummeled by something like 5,000 ad messages a day. How many do you pay attention to? As few as possible is my answer.

So try this: Engage with one or two. Really pay attention. Then figure out what the creative brief might be, based solely on what you see or hear or read. The simple act of asking creative-brief questions and figuring out the answers, begin to hone your “brief writing” muscles.

Who is this TV spot talking to? Me? Someone else? Can I deduce an insight? What problem is it trying to solve?

Play this intellectual game every day. The first thing you’ll discover is that the best, most creative ads will telegraph the brief. The rest will leave you befuddled. When the time comes to write a real brief, you’ll discover how much sharper your thinking is.


Know Your Brand’s History

In my travels for the ANA, I meet many smart marketers and creatives who work for major brands. Yet I am astonished by how many of these brand advocates have little or no knowledge of their own brand’s history.

There is simply no excuse for brand creative ignorance. Reviewing the work inspired by the creative brief requires context. How can you inspire creatives to do great work, or judge the work you aspired to inspire, without knowing what came before?


Know Advertising

I often ask marketers if they can name three ad campaigns in any category that won an award for creativity and ROI. Some know one or two. Most have no clue.

Practice means not only doing the intellectual exercises I mentioned earlier, but also studying the work others have done in your category as well as other categories. Creatives do this routinely. Marketers need to do it more.

If you’re accustomed to three or four rounds of creative before you get what you want, imagine cutting out even just one round. Then calculate how much time and money you’d save in one fiscal year. The morale boost may be immeasurable, but it won’t go unnoticed. A little practice pays off handsomely.

And remember Aristotle: “Excellence is not an art. It is the habit of practice.”

Howard Ibach is an ANA Instructor for the Marketing Training and Development Center. For more on this approach, be sure to view Howard’s workshop, What An Inspired Creative Brief Looks Like.

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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