Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Creativity Without Strategy is an Empty Pinata

Or maybe it's more like a fancy house built on a sand foundation.
Or a snazzy sports car without a steering wheel. You get the point.

In advertising, some people (mostly creative people) think creative is king. But the real king is strategy. Marketing strategy and creative strategy. Without sound strategy to guide it, even a highly creative advertising or communication campaign won't get the terrific results a strategy-based campaign might have.

If you're looking to win an ad show award, by all means go for an eye-popping, off-the-wall creative execution. But is your execution what the client needs to increase business? Or it is just meant to wake up a bored out-of-town Associate Creative Director on Addy judging day, so s/he will notice your clever, cute, or outrageous piece and bless it?

Please don't hear me saying when strategy comes in the door, creativity goes out the window. The fact is, I've found that working strategically pumps up creative energy. You can get on the right track immediately, instead of aimlessly flailing around for some wild graphic or bit of wordplay to hang a campaign on, or some lame "borrowed interest" execution. With a strong strategy in hand, you know the target audience, you know their hot buttons and the message they want to hear, and you know what media will be used. You're practically home-free! Nothing left to do but let the creative juices flow! Fun, fun, fun!

As a longtime agency creative, I admit I'm proud of the handsome Omni Best of Show award (bookend) on my office shelf, and the others. But I'm much prouder of the great results strategy-driven creative has won for my clients. Like the following:
• A manufacturing company whose multi-media campaign earned them a 1400% return on their investment.
• An insurance company whose three-part direct mail campaign achieved 400% of goal -- after the first mailing.
• A full-page newspaper ad that drew 150 applications for 12 positions with a KC company opening a new office in Jefferson City, MO.
Also as a longtime agency creative, I've been able to borrow (or steal) some pretty cool tools for formulating effective marketing and creative strategies. The process starts with asking the right questions. From there on, the rest falls into place naturally.

Let me show you how strong strategy plus on-target creative execution can work for you. Call or email me now. Let's get started.

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