The Best Creative Tool I Use:
The Creative Platform

by Terri Langhans, CSP

Here’s the best tool I know of to help you focus your marketing message or advertising campaign. Before you send creative teams to the proverbial “drawing board,” make sure they (you?) have the direction they need. My typical example: “is the strategy ‘gets your hands clean,’ ‘makes your hands soft,’ or ‘kills germs’?”

One compelling, motivating point or insight. Not a list. Copy points in the various marketing materials can mention benefits and features, but the concept, the idea that will penetrate and get people to pay attention to your message has to be laser focused.

Here’s the model.
You can copy and then paste it into a Word document.

The purpose of this ______________________ [ad, direct mail series, campaign, article, email, brochure, etc.] is to ______________________________[inform, convince, persuade, entertain, scare, concern, raise awareness, etc.] _____________________[target audience] to/that _________________________________________[the action or change of mind we want to create in the target audience] because _________________________________________ [the single most important reason they should do or think what we want them to.]


Facetious, But Good:
The purpose of this ad is to convince 40-something red-haired women to buy Clairol’s Perky Blonde because blondes have more fun. (Or…look younger, or…gentlemen prefer blondes? Pick one and bring it to life.)

Vague and off target:
The purpose of this direct mail campaign is to inform Local County home sellers that they have a choice in Title Companies and should ask for Acme Title because we’ll do a better job.

(So, when the campaign is over, as long as people know there’s a choice, it was worth the budget? And choosing one product or company over another because “we’re better or best” is too broad and general.)

The purpose of this direct mail series is to create enough concern in the minds of Local County home sellers around the issue of Title Insurance that they will visit the Local County website to investigate, because, if they don’t, they risk surprises that would add expense, delay or prevent the close of escrow.

(Can you “see” how this creative platform would drive a campaign that is different than the more educational one above? And can you see how it is more realistically measured?)

The purpose of this campaign is to persuade adults 65+ with leg pain to call for a free screening because, if the pain is caused by a circulatory problem (and not arthritis), a simple procedure exists that relieves the pain and gives them their active life back.

Service Business:
The purpose of these direct mail cards is to get businesses with 5 or more computers to remember us the next time their network crashes, because we’re ready for anything. (To see an example of one of the cards, click here.)

(Here’s what the business owner wrote originally: The purpose of this campaign is to inform businesses with 5 or more computers to call us because their computers and network investments can truly provide them with unprecedented business value if the right products are used and maintained by a competent, reliable, reseller and systems integrator like us.) YIKES! Not even close to what the platform is designed to do. This is just another way of pounding your chest and trying to preach.

By the Way
The Creative Platform is one of the many tools I share and train people how to use in my program on how to run your in-house marketing department like a respected consulting firm. Let me know if you’d like to explore whether this might be a fit for your organization. Call or click.

About the Author
(If you reprint this article, it must include the following attribution.)

Terri Langhans, Certified Speaking Professional, is the former CEO of a national ad agency and marketing firm and author of The 7 Marketing Mistakes Every Business Makes (And How to Fix Them). She is COE (Chief of Everything) at Blah Blah Blah, where she is relentless about helping business people make their marketing and presentations less ordinary and more effective. Call (800) 207-0015 or visit



Articles & Advice

Terri Langhans

Terri Langhans, CSP, COE
Certified Speaking Professional
Chief of Everything
Blah Blah Blah Etc., Inc.

“Thanks for a ray of metaphorical sunshine through the clouded sky on a damp day on the borders of London, Kent and Surrey.”
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Enabling Space

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