The GACC Marketing Brief: The best framework we’ve created

Goals. Audience. Creative. Channels.

Marketers spend too much time on busy work. This is a trap we fall into as marketers when we focus on quantity of work instead of impactful work from the start.

Enter the GACC (not the nickelodeon slime stuff from the 90s—throwback reference for other “old” millennials). The GACC is our version of a (brief) marketing brief. I evolved this framework while leading marketing at Asana and we continue to use it with startups we advise. GACC stands for goals, audience, creative/unique take, and channels/distribution.

When you are planning a campaign, writing a blog post, deciding the focus of an event, or creating anything longer than a Tweet, you probably need a GACC. Writing the GACC in advance helps give your future creation focus, sets context for reviewers, and ensures you have a plan for driving results.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this newsletter:

  1. Why use the GACC and how to use it

  2. Break down of the GACC acronym

  3. Marketing jobs from our job board

The importance of the GACC

We have 2 main principles in marketing we encourage everyone to follow to ensure you are focused on and driving impact:

  1. Everything you create as a marketing team should ladder up to a perception and/or an OKR, otherwise it should be deprioritized—at least for now. There are sometimes exceptions to this rule, but I can’t think of many.

  2. Everything you create should pass the “add value” test. If it doesn’t add value to your audience specifically and is simply duplicative, really ask yourself if it’s worth making at all.

The GACC makes sure you and your team follow these principles, which results in better work, which results in short-term and long-term growth gains. The GACC is the best framework I’ve ever developed. I mean I haven’t developed that many frameworks, but this unverified claim would still stand if I developed 100.

Order of operations: Develop OKRs, perceptions & a marketing roadmap or calendar. Then for everything you produce, write a GACC, then create it, then distribute it.

How to use the GACC

  1. Keep it front and center. Put it at the top of every piece of content so it stays top of mind—in any campaign document, in any launch document, in task descriptions in your project management tool, or anywhere you’re working or your team member’s will be reviewing work.

  2. Require it for everything that’s created. As a team lead, I wouldn’t review something without a GACC. My team always made review tasks for me for work that required my feedback, and if the GACC wasn’t in the review task or document, I commented back that I couldn’t review it. This may make me sound like a stickler of a manager, but it’s that important, and I tried to do this with kindness.

  3. Give feedback based on it. Feedback becomes less subjective when you are responding to the GACC. “I don’t think this will drive this OKR because the audience size for an email like this is too small” is much better feedback than “This won’t work”

  4. Contractors should use it too. One of the most powerful ways to get on the same page with contractors and agencies is to agree on the GACC before anything else happens.

  5. Create this before an outline or a rough draft. Doing the GACC retroactively misses the point. Your outline and draft will be a lot better if you do this first, and you’ll save hours of time in revisions—we promise. 

  6. The best few minutes you’ll spend on every project. Once you get in the habit and have clear OKRs and Perceptions, this only takes 5-10 mins. If it’s taking you longer, ask someone to work on it with you. 

GACC breakdown

Goals

What to include?

  • Summary of what you are creating

  • What KPI are you trying to move?

  • What OKR does this support?

  • What perception does this support? (see our previous post on Perceptions)

  • What keyword are you targeting? (If relevant)

  • Why are you creating this specifically? Why did you choose this path vs. other paths considered? (Optional)

  • Non-Goals (Optional)

Why include?

  • Busywork is the enemy of high impact marketing. This helps you avoid it.

  • If you don’t know why you’re making something and it doesn't support a focus area (OKR) you shouldn’t make it.

  • When others review your work before shipping (which someone always should), they can give feedback on whether they think the work itself will achieve the stated goals.

  • It’s easier to benchmark and determine if something was successful in the future.

Audience

What to include?

  • Who is this for? Which ICP at which type of company? This should be enough detail to help segment or target on the channels you’ll use (e.g. email, social ads).

  • Are you targeting prospects, customers, or both?

  • You can list primary, secondary, and tertiary and non-audiences too.

Why include?

  • Not all content needs to target all audiences, in fact it usually shouldn’t. This exercise forces you to get specific.

  • If you don’t know who you are making something for, your message usually gets distilled down to the lowest common denominator for a broad audience. It usually won’t be successful. 

  • If you are passing this content off to another person on your team, they’ll need to know how to segment within that specific channel.

  • Sets the stage for reviewers, who should review things with a different lens based on audience.

  • For more on audience marketing, see our previous post on audience analysis and product marketing.

Creative & Unique POV

What to include?

Explain what makes this work truly unique & how it will stand out. This is the hardest part of the GACC.

  • Unique takeaway or point of view

  • How does this add value for your audience?

  • Creative requirements for design and/or creative team (if relevant)

Why include?

  • This section helps you decide if this piece of work should be created at all. 

  • If you don’t have anything unique to say or can’t make a piece of content that is better than what already exists on the topic, don’t make it.

  • Communicate what is needed to other team members, especially designers or contractors.

Channels & Distribution

What to include?

  • Where is this going/what is this? (e.g. blog, web content, event)

  • How is it being distributed? (e.g. email, social, linked to from ad, SEO)

  • Will this link to existing assets & which ones?

Why include?

  • If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to see it…distribution is just as important as what you are creating.

  • Where content goes highly impacts what is created.

Now go make some great marketing things, but first, write the GACC.

And BTW, we pronounce this as “Gack” but feel free to say G.A.C.C. Conversely, we say M.K.T.1. and others say Marketing 1. This is not great branding, but we’re making it work.

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