We’ve all seen advertisements that are hilarious… shocking… or have amazing cinematic videography. They are entertaining. You may talk about them with friends. But do they sell more products for the business?
As a marketing consultant and creative director, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard customers describe former creative work as something they didn’t like, didn’t get and that didn’t get results. They say things like “oh, it was pretty” or “oh, it was clever” – but unfortunately, pretty and clever didn’t bump their bottom line.
So what does make good – even great – creative work? It’s always about the message.
Did you catch that? It’s always, without a doubt, about… the… message.
Your message is the most important part of your creative, and getting it just right is a process that takes creative minds, brilliant marketing strategy and really, really good writers. Entire campaigns are made on the message, and entire campaigns also die by them.
So what are some things to consider when developing an effective creative message? You may glance at the following headings and think, “Duh.” But unless you have really examined these things and put them to the test, I would encourage you to read on.
Avoid predictable language
Think about what happens when someone tells you a joke you’ve heard before? As soon as they say “Why did the chicken cross the road” – you are already replying “To get to the other side”. Not only are you particularly not engaged, you are also very bored. Now swap this joke with typical advertising phrases such as “We’ve been locally owned for 50 years”, “We have all the options to fit your needs” or “Our knowledgeable staff is here to help”. You tune out, and you’re bored – and it doesn’t matter how many beautiful shots or firework graphics accompany these predictable, meaningless statements.
Stop “we-we”ing all over yourself
I borrowed that phrase from a colleague because of how memorable and accurate it is. As human beings, our natural instinct is to be first and foremost concerned with ourselves. It is just the way we are wired. But as businesses, when our creative message is focused on our business, our product and us – why does a perspective client care?
Creative should be… creative
Those with the best creative messages win. This means going beyond predictable language and finding a completely new way to say something that is both true to your business and resonates with potential clients. Once you have developed a uniquely creative message, now it’s time to add the bells and whistles – if they enhance the message.
Here are some examples of creative teams that got it right:
Phoenix University – the message is poignant to their target audience, and they find a unique way to relay the message. They brilliantly take something familiar and switch it up to avoid predictability and heighten engagement.
Guinness – Sometimes the best messages are told with very few words. This message resonates, and give you something unexpected, which means a deeper, longer lasting impact.
AT&T – This campaign from a few years ago is a great example of focusing on a message. They don’t try to say too much, and they don’t convolute the message with flowery language. They say one thing that is important to their target audience, and they make it relatable.
So often businesses will skimp on production so they can maximize their budgets for buying the most ad space. Here’s the hard truth: If your creative sucks – running it more just means you suck more.