Let Your Creative Juices Flow

One thing that is sure to make an email message stand out — aside from razor-sharp targeting, customized content, and personalization — is groundbreaking, eye-popping creative.

We all know that great creative comes from, at least in part, thinking “outside the box” (not the most creative adage, though, I realize… and certainly an overused one).

So how does creativity “happen”? What are the necessary processes needed to propel your thinking into creative nirvana? And how do you get there?

Well, this article won’t be able to cover it all, but it can at least spill a few well-heeled rules that make for positively charged food for thought. Creative thought, that is. Here they are…

Rule 1: Don’t follow rules. True creativity has no limits, and in order to really get those unique ideas going, you need to think of yourself and your ideas as a free-flowing space without walls or limitations. This is easy to say but difficult to accomplish.

Rule 2: Think in pictures. What is your unique selling proposition? Or what is that one word that describes what sets you apart from your competitors? Are your products extremely long lasting? Think Energizer bunny. Does it bring out sentimental emotions? Think Hallmark. Is it low maintenance? Think Maytag repairman.

Yes, we’re talking TV commercials and print ads, but great advertising has no restrictions of medium. That means that email advertisements should not be limited only by what we know right now about email advertisements. Push the envelope. Create a visual out of your best benefit, and hone it from there. That visual may just end up becoming a mascot or an icon. Remember, though, that its main goal is to capture attention and help drive your call to action, whatever that may be.

Rule 3: Create a blueprint — figuratively speaking, that is. This is a guideline for you to follow as you start brainstorming. It should include a comprehensive customer and prospect profile, including demographic and psychographic information — as much as you know. This profile should be enough for you to be able to “picture” a group of your top audience members… complete with likes, dislikes, occupations, and other details. The blueprint should also tell you how your offer and/or products are needed by this audience.

Rule 4: Be original. Due to the youth of the email venue as a marketing tool, we see a ton of look-alike promotions — similarities in copy or design… or both. Using layouts of well-designed promotions as a base for your own is not going to earn you any creativity stripes, obviously. Meaning that imitation MAY be the sincerest form of flattery, but it won’t get you very far. Keep in mind that great ideas don’t usually come easily. Be prepared for the time and the dedication necessary to bring those ideas — those original ideas — to the top of the pile and leave the copycats behind.

Rule 5: Take some risks. An outstanding ad or promotion is based on the creation of something memorable. That means the element of surprise — and even shock, depending on your audience — may be what you need for people to remember your message. So go against the grain, and challenge the tried and true. At least you’ll grab attention — the primary goal of any great advertisement — no matter what the medium.

Those are just a few elements to begin the brainstorming process. Just be prepared to throw out those first few seemingly great ideas. The creative spirit consists of more than just an occasional idea that pops into your head. It is not built on whim or whimsy, yet it can be responsible for stopping a hot prospect dead in his or her tracks, if done right. So work it. Live it. Breathe it. Then take a step back from it, and do it all over again. That’s when the truly awe-inspiring ideas really begin to flow.

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