How to Get on a Creative Streak
Previously we had a couple of articles on testing your advertising. I am here to say that testing is fantastic and gives your advertising a strength that cannot be gained in any other way. But I realize that there are some people who will find the idea of testing to be burdensome, tiring, deadening, and all around life sapping. Those of you with a more creative streak will want to focus on the spontaneity, the occasional burst and flash of insight. (A little note though: even you creative types had better integrate a little testing here and there. After all, it is what happens between the creative bursts that can make or break a campaign or relationship.)
There are two ways to go about developing the creative ideas that will result in marketing that – even with the word ‘creative’ in there – produces results, adheres to the methodology, and can fit into a marketing plan quite nicely.
Start With A Slant. At first this may seem to be the least creative thing to do: start with a prepackaged, preformed idea and then work from there. However, I have found that having a starting point greatly increases the quality of creative ideas, serves to jump-start your ideas, and gets you over the shell shock of a blank page. Not to mention if you have gathered pages upon pages of information and you are lacking direction and focus.
The time to do this is before you even sit down to gather information; before you do anything. First you pick a slant. The Headline Starters are slants. Here are some examples:
Now that you have a slant, begin to imagine the possibilities. If you chose a comparison slant, can you see the direction? For example, you have a furniture company and you chose the comparison slant, now what? Well, you get to go out and pick all the companies you want to use in the comparison. Then you get to shop around, discover the differences, and discover what makes a great piece of furniture. After you gather all that, then you get to put the information together – like the best darn Consumer Reports writer ever!!
Can you picture in your mind what the ads will look like? Can you envision what the DVD should include? Do you see the benefit of choosing a slant first?
Here is another interesting thing, in this example the sales point is product, the next level point is “ABC Furniture has the best furniture,” and the very next level information is the comparison information you gathered. Without significant effort you can roll through the process like water rolling off a duck’s back.
Starting with a slant will help you to have purpose and direction. A slant can focus your research by pointing out the information you need to gather. It will focus your headline writing and provide the structure for the ad. In the comparison example, a chart would be excellent, right? Now for the second point.
Be Quick About Things. Just so you can see what I mean, I am going to time this. I am going to develop an ad from beginning to end.
9:27:23 am September 26, 2008
Sales point: Do It Right, Kill The Bugs.
John Smith Scenario: You are having a dinner party. There are two other couples that you invited over. You are sitting down to the meal when a big, brown cockroach starts to crawl up the wall. The visitors don’t notice it so you jump up and smash it, but not quickly enough, one guest saw the thing. You know she did and now you are embarrassed. You say something to cover the situation.
Next Level Arguments: ABC Pest Control is the fastest service; ABC Pest Control provides the longest kill time.
Headline: How To Avoid The Embarrassment Of That Big, Brown Roach Crawling Up The Wall During Your Next Dinner Party. Advice From A Housewife To Housewives.
9:34:58 am September 26, 2008
What I want you to understand from this example is that going from point to point in the process is not that hard. It can move fast, if you let it. Remember: you are not skipping steps if you go fast! You move fast by streamlining the process a bit.
You start with the sales point, that general statement of what is most important to the prospect. Then you move into the emotions and develop one common scenario. Then you build a small argument, usually of the “We are the best…” type. Then you write a headline that serves as the backbone of the ad.
Now I threw the headline slant in there as well just for kicks. But the point is both methods will get your creative juices flowing. (I know that sentence scared some, but these are simple and straightforward methods.)
Both methods are designed to get you to a finished product quickly; both methods use the process. There are no shortcuts here, but I will give you one word of caution. These methods work well if you are working from an understanding, not just from the memory of a process. Like a calculator with sophisticated differential calculus functions, if you do not understand the how’s and why’s, the answers you get will never be right.
So keep these two methods in mind:
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