22 Questions Toward More POWERFUL Creative
Creative is a process as much as any marketing activity. And, like any process, to be successful to the max -- to reach your objectives -- a checklist can be helpful.
This checklist is named The Creative Planning Process. It contains the tactics (the "do" part of planning) needed to reach your objectives. The objectives described in your master marketing and sales plan.
Of course, this assumes you have such a plan. And, you'd better! Why? Well, because without a clear focus that comes with such a plan, your creative will be foggy. And, when your creative is unclear, it screams a "non-message".
Your audience knows when you miss the mark. They know immediately you really don't know what you're talking about.
So, to avoid this situation, this list was created. These ideas grew, changed and developed over time ... and with experience.
The original concept for this unique guide for Direct Marketing Creative came from a strategy book by Joe Reynolds. Joe wrote "Out Front Leadership ... " as a result of his 30 years at Proctor & Gamble. I liked his strategy base -- and by adapting and adding, by revising and revamping expressly for creative, you now have these questions -- and The Creative Planning Process.
The 22 thoughts raise the traditional How, What, Where, Who, Why and When questions. And although you may not need to answer everyone, you do need to look at each.
When you do, ask:
"How am I going to reach our objectives, within the allocated timeframe and budget?", or
"What do I need to do now and in the future to reach our goals?", or
"Where are we headed and how can the creative process get us there?", or
"Who is our marketplace and what are all the ways to reach these people?", or
"Why does anyone want to buy the products we sell and services we offer?", or
"When is our market ready to buy, and when are our sales reps ready to sell?", then YOU are ready to be creative.
This is my list of 22 tactics necessary to reach your Creative objectives:
- What is the base idea ... the rock-bottom creative idea? i.e., what are you looking to do, to achieve, to make happen?
- Is this a good idea? Or, is this idea only "creative"? Is it built on a long-term idea ... or is it just promotional?
- If this is a good idea, WHY is it so good? What does it do or offer toward achieving your objectives? With your customers and with your prospects?
- How does this idea "mesh" with your already stated and understood company values? Does it walk in the same direction you are headed -- on track? Or, is it off-center?
- What about your mission, your vision, your purpose ... does this creative idea compliment, or compete, with those standards? With your focus, your direction, your position, your image in the marketplace?
- What is the potential for this idea with those who buy what you sell? How large an idea is it ... does it cover your total audience? How much "universal" appeal will it actually have? What can you expect to happen with this creative idea?
- Has anyone else in your industry tried this creative idea before? If so, who? And what happened ... are they still using it? If so, what are the results? If not, why not?
- What about this idea in other industries ... has it been tried elsewhere? By looking outside your direct marketplace, do you see others doing what you want to do? If yes, who are these people and what level of success are they enjoying?
- Timing ... if this idea has been tried by others, when? At that time, what else was happening in the marketplace to affect success?
- Why was this idea a success ... or not? Simply, yes or no - did it work? Short term? Or long-term, too?
- What resources are needed to make this idea happen the right way? How about people? Time? Money? Systems? Other support? Even good ideas do not just happen ... they demand support to be successful. Do you have access to all needed resources?
- Should you chose to run with this idea, when will these resources need to be committed? i.e., what is the timetable to get all into place? Usually everything is not needed at the same time, yet, there still needs to be a schedule. Do you have such a schedule?
- What is the process to mesh people with the idea? With the systems? With the immediate objectives? With the overall task? With what is to be achieved? i.e., who does what ... and when?
- Who needs to be in control -- who is in charge? What person holds power over the creative decisions to be made? Where does the buck stop?
- What do the people who are making all this happen think of the creative idea? Do they like it -- or not? Are they committed? What about the sales team? And management ... is everyone fully committed?
- What are all the ways you can communicate this idea to your marketplace? To gain the maximum response and positive results? Direct mail / print / broadcast / merchandising / public relations / sales promotion / the WWW?
- What about frequency? How often will you communicate with your marketplace? This often overlooked part of the creative process is mandatory to consider upfront. Have you?
- What is the timetable for your communication plan to come to market? Combined with the media use and frequency, what will your schedule be?
- Money -- the budget -- what is the financial plan for this creative idea? Do you have sufficient funds to make it happen? Either a "Salvation Army" or "Rolex" budget - whatever it is -- do you have what you need to make this creative process happen?
- "What if" -- have you thought about "what if" plus, and "what if" minus situations? The SWOT analysis applies here; Strengths / Weaknesses / Opportunities / Threats. Have you evaluated every aspect of "what if"?
- How are you going to measure the results? What is your creative plan to complete the circle ... to tie the creative process to back-end results? Be certain to decide before going to market what it takes to be successful in the marketplace. Have you done so?
- Now, how soon do we begin? When do we begin this creative process? A portion of this plan is to think and plan with DIRFT ... Do It Right the First Time. Although this may be an unlikely happening -- it is part of being ready. Do you have the DIRFT philosophy?
So, The Creative Planning Process. 22 questions toward more POWERFUL creative. Thoughts -- questions to consider, to ask, to answer. Before putting your fingers to a keyboard, before designing a line. The tactics needed to reach your objectives. Here's to doing it right ... the first time!