The promotion industry grows more competitive and cluttered every day. When the first radio commercial aired in 1922, it was probably the only promotion that Americans heard the entire day – and it lasted 20 minutes! The average consumer today is hit with more than 100 messages an hour. Creative professionals face sophisticated consumers who are feel they are “hip” and impervious to marketing pitches.
How can a creative person produce standout work that sells product and services? He or she has to know the tools for creating a promotion that makes sense.
Focus In Begin with research so you understand the client’s product. Too often I hear creative people say they’re not clear about why a client wants a particular promotion. Good creative does not grow from the roots of misunderstanding. In order to understand your client, you must do your homework. Try out the client’s product or service and study the environment where the product will be viewed.
If you know your customer and the product or service you are promoting, you can try to create executions that speak to consumers’ needs. We are all consumers. Think about a promotion that has worked on you, and one that hasn’t. How often has a promotion left you wondering, “What do they want me to do?” Or, more importantly, “Why should I buy?” Ask yourself about your work, “What new insight have I communicated?”
Think motivation Get to the point. If you don’t make clear to consumers what you expect them to do, you give them the opportunity to pass you over. I’m not saying you have to beat consumers over the head – just provide them with a clear course of action. Be aware of the venue in which the message is being delivered. Will their decisions require an immediate response or time to think? If you take consumers too far away from relevancy, they’ll just keep walking.
Ultimately, it’s creative that ties together a successful promotion. Creativity isn’t restricted to the images you create, a new typeface, or how many layers of PhotoShop you use. In promotions, creativity means incorporating a new medium, creating a different use for a traditional vehicle, or finding a solution in an unusual place. Are you working in the most effective medium? Push yourself to think unconventionally. Remember, you are trying to capture an elusive share of mind awareness.
In a project for an international computer manufacturer our agency had to communicate the computers’ features and push consumers’ growing brand awareness. There was little display space available. We created space out of thin air by suspending eye-catching vinyl designs over computer display monitors. The monitor toppers were smart because they were durable, cost-efficient, easy to ship, and a snap for store employees to attach to computers. We created an attractive new medium and met the client’s objectives.
How to get there Through the years, I have developed my own set of tricks to produce smart promotions.
* Stay on top of trends. Push your suppliers to keep you informed about new materials and manufacturing, and ask them about effective pieces they have worked on recently.
* Follow award shows. Also look at promotions outside your client’s category. Don’t let the category steer you toward myopic thinking. If you hear, “It’s never been done that way before,” you may be onto something.
* Stay on top of industry trends. More restrictions are being placed on promotion materials and point-of-sale. Retailers are dictating what types of promotions they will accept. There is nothing worse than selling clients work they can’t use.
* Promotions don’t have to be expensive. A well-focused, insightful promotion doesn’t have to cost a ton. Consumers are shrewd enough to understand the bells and whistles are often there to cover up the lack of a good offer.’
* Don’t be annoying. There’s a difference between intrusive and annoying. Remember, you don’t have to shout to be heard.
Go back to the idea you’re working on this week, question it, and push it to the next level.
Jump into the world’s only open forum for promotion agency creative directors. Send your Creative Side column ideas and campaign reports to David Vaczek at david_vaczek@ cowlesbiz.com.