Conventional direct mail wisdom acknowledges the importance of “creative” in the success of any direct mail endeavor. The old “40-40-20 Rule” claims that your list and your offer are each responsible for 40 percent of your mailing’s success, while your creative (copy, design, illustration) bears the burden for the remaining 20 percent.
But what exactly is this “creative” that the marketing sages are talking about?
Sometimes marketing people get a bit confused about what makes something creative. They get caught up in making something flashy, cute, or clever in an attempt to stand out. That may be fun, but it’s not necessarily effective. Have you ever watched a commercial on television and been left laughing or amazed at the creativity involved—only to realize a couple of minutes later that you had no idea what the commercial was for?
Real creativity in marketing isn’t just about getting noticed. It’s not about being clever—or even about being “memorable.” When it comes to effective creativity in marketing, the goal is to grab people’s attention—and move them to action.
What’s the best way to get someone to do something? It’s to get them to realize that a certain course of action is in their best interest. That means that you—as a marketer—need to approach things from their perspective. What are their needs? What are their pain points, problems, or concerns?
If you can put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes and understand what motivates him or her, you’re half way to your goal. Then you need to craft a message that let’s them know how your company or organization can help them solve their problem in a way that nobody else can. And you need to let them know what specific steps they need to take to make that happen. It’s what we refer to as a Call to Action.
That process requires creativity. And in some ways, it’s harder to do than coming up with a clever, flashy, memorable presentation. It requires getting out of your own way of thinking and putting yourself in the position of the people you’re trying to help.
So that next time you’re tasked with coming up with a creative way to get your company’s message across, resist the temptation to go for the flashy, clever, artsy approach. While there’s nothing wrong with those things, they’re really more the icing on the cake. Take some time to think through what your customer really needs—and create a message that let’s them know how you can meet that need in a way that nobody else can. And make sure they know exactly what they need to do to make that happen.
And if you need a little help doing that, we’ve got the expertise (and a creative idea or two) that can help!