Brainstorming doesn’t work?

According to research cited by PsyBlog (one of my favorite blogs), brainstorming may not be as effective as people are lead to believe.

I wrote about brainstorming in The Secrets of Successful Brainstorming on my main website. And because I’ve conducted brainstorming sessions with clients, I know firsthand that there are limitations to this technique and that it’s hard to get brainstorming to work just right.

According to PsyBlog, problems such as people slacking in groups and fear of being evaluated can result in a group producing fewer and lower quality ideas than people working alone.

I can verify this from personal experience, though I have found that poor results come primarily from the wrong group mix, a rigid company culture, and inexperience with brainstorming.

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Comic book ads reveal “action” design

Comic Book Ad

I was looking at some old ads for comic books recently. In addition to bringing back boyhood memories, it got me thinking about what’s often wrong with ad design these days.

Comic books (and the ads for them) are all about action and adventure. The design creates this feeling with vivid colors, imperfect hand lettering, perspective, and angles.

Imagine what a comic would look like if the colors were muted, the letters were small and perfect, the images were flat, and all the graphics were linear.

It would look like many ads you see today. Boring and aloof.

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What if a corporation created the STOP sign?

I have often remarked that the stop sign is a lesson in simple, direct copywriting and design.

But what if the creation of the stop sign were directed by a corporate marketing department?

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4 secrets of DM creative team success

In a recent Target Marketing webinar, Robert Lerose and William Fridrich discussed how clients can work successfully with DM copywriters and designers.

Target posted four of these ideas on their Web site:

1. The most precious thing you can give a copywriter is time. Hiring a copywriter at the last minute and then expecting him to turn around brilliant, well-conceived copy shortly thereafter is unreasonable, says Lerose. Plus, many of the quality copywriters will be booked! So make sure you hire early and set a reasonable deadline so the work comes in on time and in great shape.

2. The aim of design is clarity and involvement, not fancy-pants visuals. It’s very easy to go overboard with design, especially with the new tools available to designers. But restraint is necessary when the chief motivator is to get the copy read and keep readers involved until they respond, Fridrich asserts.

3. Make your key people available for interviews. This is an overlooked crucial step in helping a copywriter not only understand the company and product he’s writing about, but also in coming up with the right kind of copy, explains Lerose. Often, visiting the site where the product is made and talking to the people involved, such as a magazine and its editorial staff, will eventually produce copy that is accurate, inspired and effective.

4. All changes and corrections should be collected and communicated to the designer at one time. Depending on how many people have a say in the look and design of a particular mailer, it’s essential to first come to a consensus about the necessary revisions before asking the designer to make changes, says Fridrich. This results in a more efficient process and ultimately is a mutually satisfactory result.

I’d be happy if clients would just provide adequate time and forward changes in one document. They both have to do with time, and unfortunately many marketers simply don’t understand the time that can go into delivering good work.

What else would you like clients to do to make working with them easier?

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