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Nine strategic questions all creatives should ask

Writing for Earshot Creative, strategic media consultant Dirk Anthony says creatives would serve their businesses and their audiences better if only they’d stop and think.
Stop and think says Dirk

Today everyone is a media owner thanks to social media.

Everyone has the power to ‘broadcast’ their creativity to the world. The democratisation of media has given just about everyone a view on what makes great creative content.

What does that really mean to you as a creative writer, producer or content maker? I believe there has never been a better time for ‘creatives’ to demonstrate their value.

In order to stand out and be credible you need to stop and think. Don’t just take the brief (if you’re lucky enough to get one!) and start working on content. Gather insights by asking questions that help you think strategically, how will that help you create more successful creative or production content?

Dirk Anthony, strategic media consultant.

Dirk Anthony, strategic media consultant.

Imagine having the understanding of the Marketing Director or Director of Content together with your creative skills.

Here are the questions that can help your work connect even more effectively for your organisation’s big picture plans.

For the purposes of this article I will use the word ‘Brand’ as the label to cover a variety of uses. For example, radio station, TV channel, imaging production, visual creative, content marketing, website, social communication, and service or product.

1. Who is the target audience for this Brand?

This is a fundamental piece of information to know. You can’t get far without it!

I am amazed at how often many in the team will not know, or think they do, and have different ideas on who the target audience is for the brand.

Don’t just assume the established wisdom. Probe, ask, “why is that the target?”. You’re the creative responsible for the content so you need to understand to whom you are talking.

2. What do we know about them?

There are segments within segments. Gone are the days of targeting 25 to 44 y/o demographics. There are many different attitudes within an age demographic and you’ll want to understand which segment your brand needs to deepen their relationship with. In digital, the technology is trying to help create effective personalisation. For broadcast or ‘mass’ media it’s more difficult, but it is critical you understand their attitudes and interests in order to engage more emotionally with them.

3. What is the key business issue the Brand is trying to address?

Are you aware of the key issues facing your Brand right now? As you work on regular tactical jobs, you are making decisions and judgment calls all the time. Don’t you think your decision-making will be even more effective if you have context and understand the issues?

Your creative judgement becomes even sharper with knowledge of the wider issues facing the organisation.

4. What is the current key brand message we are trying to communicate?

This is same point as knowing your target audience. Ask your colleagues what are the key brand messages? Is there one or two or a bunch of messages? As the ‘creative’ you need to know. You’re responsible for the content so you need to understand how to communicate these key messages through your work.

5. What is the tonality and style of the current brand positioning?

Are you a Classic Music brand or a Rock music brand? It’s easy to recognise how your creative work will be different in this scenario. But what if you are a mass-market mainstream brand and you are trying to win consumers while your competitors are trying to do the same. Every piece of creative and content communicates a tone and style and says something about you.

Remember this is about the consumers desired style and tone, not ours.

6. How does this creative or production contribute to the brand message(s)?

The key to this question is to get as specific an answer as possible to this question. The clearer you are the better your creative juices can explore interesting production or content.

7. What is the ‘content’ this piece of creative or production is supporting?

Make sure you clearly understand the strategy for that ‘content’, whether it’s a TV or Radio show, sponsorships or content marketing for websites etc.
Explore the details of the piece of content, and then you’ll understand the content owners plan and what they want to achieve. Ultimately you will provide a better service to them.

8. What do we want the audience to think, feel or do after this piece of creative or production?

We’ve all sat through presentations and been bored to death by PowerPoint. As you think about your creative or production, think about your target audience at all times. What does your brand want its audience to think, feel or do after being exposed to your work?

9. How will the success of this creative or production be measured?

Creativity can be measured. The hardest part is agreeing what the measurement might be. Be open to the thought of how your work can be evaluated.

By measuring your work you’ll get valuable feedback. From this point on, you’ll constantly update what you do every day to reflect the fast changing world we live in.

There has never been a better time for an experienced and skilled creative.

Most people are now open to your influence. Be proactive. The best creatives are those that take responsibility knowing what’s going on. Be bold and ask the questions, get the information and turn that insight into creative content that works wonders for your organisation.

You have a great gift and job to do.. have fun!

Dirk Anthony
+44 (0)7779453640

Dirk Anthony is a strategic media consultant who works with broadcast and digital media owners to create company-wide strategic vision. His expertise spans brand strategy, content, editorial, product development. He has expertise in large team management, coaching leadership and creative talent across a broad suite of media platforms.


  1. This is a test comment in our new commenting system. It lets the site run so much faster than when the Facebook comments system was here, but do we like it? Let’s find out.

    Dirk speaks sense, doesn’t he?

  2. A lot of sense is spoken in the article. Fantastic resource.