The Boring Little Secret for Effortless Advertising Creativity
by Dean Rieck
Edmund Burke, a British statesman, once said, "Facts are to the mind what food is to the body." He was right. And nowhere is that more true than in advertising.
Forget the image of the lone creative genius brainstorming random ideas until he shouts, "Eureka!" The truth is far more boring. Because great ideas begin with facts. Lots and lots of seemingly mundane facts.
Feed your mind and the ideas flow effortlessly. That's the real secret for advertising creativity.
Collect all the information you can. Read, ask questions, dig, let your curiosity roam free. It's like panning for gold eventually, you turn up the shiny nuggets that can turn your advertising into profit.
Here are some of the questions you should answer for every promotion:
- What is the product, service, or cause?
- What are the features? Which are most important?
- What are the benefits of these features? What problems are solved? What needs are met?
- What is the positioning in the marketplace?
- What is the unique selling proposition? How is this better, bigger, cheaper, longer lasting, more popular?
- What is the story behind this product, service, or cause? How did it all begin?
- Who is the competition? What are the differences? How is this better?
- What is known about the company? Interesting history? Well-know owner? Years in business? Awards? Other divisions? Size?
- What is the price point?
- Is there a sample to try? A sample of the competition?
- Who is the prospect? Demographics? Psychographics? Needs? Beliefs? Work titles?
- What are the common objections from buyers, customers, donors?
- What testimonials or endorsements are available? Newspaper clips? Reviews? Celebrities?
- What is the basic assignment here? Direct mail package? Print ad? Radio spot? TV spot? Web site? Complete campaign?
- What is the objective? Inquiries? Direct sales? Donations? Beat the control? Higher initial response? More orders per thousand? Loose leads? Tight leads? Generate traffic? Compile a house list?
- What is the offer? Free trial? Introductory deal? Premium with order or review? Time limit? Free information? What is the strongest offer possible?
- What is the promise? More money? Better health? Greater comfort? Solution to a problem?
- What creative techniques have worked? Failed?
- What is the budget? (You're joking!)
- What is the deadline for creative? (You want it when?!)
- What lists/media have been used? Based on tests, what has worked? Failed?
- Are there ad samples? Response data for each? Samples from competitors?
- What will be tested? Offer? Format? Copy? Positioning? Other?
- Any legalese or required copy?
- How is payment accepted? Credit card? Cash? Bill me? Purchase Order?
- How are orders/responses accepted? Mail? Phone? Fax? Computer? Collect calls? Toll-free number? Which is most efficient?
- How are products delivered? UPS? FedEx? Priority Mail? Other?
- What is the guarantee? How can it be made stronger?
- What background information is available? Articles? Collateral? Creative briefs? Memos? Demographic studies? Focus group reports?
- Who else has information? Product manager or developer? Customers? Donors? Sales reps? Fulfillment? Phone operators?
Don't rush through this information gathering phase. I often spend half my time on it and believe me, it's time well spent.
As I collect information, ideas start popping into my head. Offers spring to life. Headlines seem to write themselves. And what needs to be done to maximize response suddenly becomes obvious and effortless.
Copyright © 2000 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.
Click here for reprint policy.
Copyright © Direct Creative. All Rights Reserved.