Keeping Campaigns Calm, Collected… and Creative

You’ve got an important email campaign and you’re up against an extremely tight deadline. If you don’t get those final files to the list broker by tomorrow at noon, all hell will break loose.

Sound familiar?

Now’s the time to resist the temptation of running with scissors to your creative team while sputtering feverish, garbled, and nonsensical verbiage.

Instead, consider the suggestions in this article. They could help save you time, money, and hassles. And it’s likely that your email creative could be more focused and motivating to your audience.

Take a deep breath… count to 10… put those scissors back in your drawer… and read this column.

Don’t Skip the Creative Brief

First things first: Draft a creative brief — a document that succinctly summarizes all relevant information with regard to your email creative goals. It is the single most important document. It starts the creative process.

(Here’s a detailed article on the creative brief and its role in the creative process).

In a nutshell, your creative brief can mean the difference between tepid, unfocused creative and creative that’s intriguing, motivating, and relevant to your target audience.

You’ll be glad you did it.

Refer to the Creative Brief Throughout the Creative Process

After your copywriter and designer have interpreted the brief and come up with the first creative concepts, resist the urge to look at those mockups before you review that creative brief again.

Take the time now to check your preconceived notions at the door. That said, take a deep breath and deliberately review the creative brief you drafted earlier. Refresh your memory of all the key points in the brief. Remind yourself of the key elements.

Again, who is the target audience? What’s their mindset? What’s the unique selling proposition (USP) — or the ultimate benefit to the target audience that you need to breathe life in your email? If relevant, does your email creative integrate well with your offline creative? What’s your offer? What’s the desired image? The list continues.

Remind yourself of these benchmarks, and then — only then — take a look at your creative mockup. As you soak it all in, ask yourself, is it “on brief”? Does it address all of the parameters you set? If so, great!

You Say You Don’t Like the Creative?

So, what’s the problem? Well, dear readers, it could be one of two things — a) you’re not the target audience, or b) the creative mockup is not on brief.

If you’re not the target audience, best not to judge the creative by your own personal standards. Just because you are a 45-year-old woman living in Manhattan and vehemently dislike neon colors and “in your face” edgy graphics, consider your 22-year-old target audience, who loves that type of creative execution.

If it’s not on brief, now is the time to go back to your creative team and review the creative brief with them. Point out specifically why their mock is not on brief. This approach takes the emotion out of the creative review and replaces it with cold, hard logic. Everyone is much happier that way.

Resist the Urge to Code Until the Creative Is Fully Baked

You’ve probably noticed there are always last-minute changes — even up to the 11th hour when you think the creative is finally finished. There’s typically a final edit. One more tweak. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll noodle it to death. If it’s already coded into HTML and you continue this process, prepare to find your nerves frazzled. Instead of making these changes in your coded version, keep the mockup in JPEG format and make changes there. You’ll find it’s much easier to code the piece when you have the final, final (did I say final? I mean really final) version.

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Hopefully, some of these pointers will help you through your creative process. Drop me an email if you have ideas you’d like us to cover in the future. I always enjoy hearing from you!

Until next time, take care — and save the scissors for projects that aren’t email related.

All the best,


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