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C+E Lab Playbook

About This Playbook

The greatest gift you can give your audience is understanding what they really care about.

This Playbook is produced by the New Jersey State Office of Innovation’s Communication + Engagement Lab (C+E Lab) to help you better connect your audience to your program. We’ve documented our step-by-step process to help you uncover and validate an approach that will move your audience to act — whether you’re a communications director, program manager, developer, product manager, or public policy practitioner.

This playbook is an initial beta release, and ongoing updates will be made. We would love your feedback, insights, and ideas on how we can improve it, email us at

The Big Picture

We are inundated by voices constantly fighting to grab our attention. For a message to cut through, it needs to speak directly to what we care about most. If a message fails to resonate, it will be ignored.

About the C+E Lab

The New Jersey State Office of Innovation’s Communication + Engagement Lab is bringing a resident-first approach to government marketing campaigns.

We use consumer marketing techniques to move residents to action:

  • Conduct research to understand resident motivations
  • Use learnings to articulate the true value for the resident
  • Craft strategies to meet residents where they are and move them to action

This approach changes how we talk to our audience. Instead of telling our audience what we want them to know, we talk to them about the things they really care about.

Our mission is to better connect New Jersey’s residents and institutions to state programs, resources, and services.

We are advancing our mission by building systems that improve and scale the State’s ability to market to residents by:

  • Improving the quality of the State’s marketing communication
  • Building capacity within the State to market to residents
  • Strengthening the ability of the State to effectively market to residents

And providing services and strategies that increase the impact of State efforts. We collaborate with departments and agencies to help them:

  1. Understand their audience. We uncover insights into resident motivations, so we can develop strategies to reach and activate them.
  2. Run marketing campaigns. We develop, build, and launch marketing campaigns that move residents to action.
  3. Be better marketers. We help grow and empower internal marketing talent and vendor partners with training, onboarding, and processes.

The Communication + Engagement Lab is strengthening marketing outcomes by offering a full suite of in-house advertising and marketing services including:

  • Advisory: Marketing consulting and campaign optimization
  • Research, Data, and Insights: Ethnographic interviews, testing and validation, audience surveys, insight mining, campaign tracking and reporting, dashboards, research briefs, competitive analysis
  • Strategy: audience definition, segment and persona development, value proposition development, marketing strategy, budget scenarios
  • Creative: creative briefs, creative ideation, concepting and development, creative production (video, banners, email, etc.), product naming
  • Media: media planning and budgeting, media implementation and optimization, channel planning and budgeting

We provide engagement models that support stakeholder goals and needs:

  • Advisory Support: Advice and guidance on strategy, creative and key decisions
  • Leadership and Management: End-to-end development and execution
  • Ad Hoc: Subject matter expert advice and “coaching” when it is needed

What’s Inside

This Playbook is your how-to guide to incorporating a resident-first marketing approach into your practice. It lays out the entire marketing process from insight to optimization. You can follow the process in its entirety or experiment with incorporating parts of it ad hoc.

For each part of the process we tell you what you need to know to start doing this work:

  1. Why it matters: A description of why a given play is important
  2. How it works: An overview of how you can execute the play
  3. How long it takes: A time estimate for you to complete the play
  4. Outputs: The deliverables, artifacts, work product, etc. you produce from a play
  5. Do it in a day: How to run the play if you only have limited time available
  6. Red flags: Mission critical pieces of information that you need to consider
  7. Pro tips: Highlights of more advanced applications of the play for you to take on

Not everyone has the time to go through the full process. That’s why we boiled down each component to “Do it in a Day” so anyone can try the methodology.

Mission-critical pieces of information are called out as Red Flags, and more advanced applications of the process are noted as Pro Tips.

Whether you follow the full process from start-to-finish, or cherry pick components to experiment with, the tools and tools and techniques in this Playbook will help you better connect with your constituents and move them to action.

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