You know great creative when you see it—but you also know that achieving great creative can be a challenge. It’s the inspiring combination of words and images that can motivate, empower, and deliver the results you need. At our October MNG virtual event, we got valuable insights from Linda Antonacci, owner and president of Lulu Marketing Communications Inc., which specializes in creative for financial products and services and produces content across all media channels.
In her presentation about what makes great creative and how to push industry boundaries, Linda explored many cross-industry examples while discussing the eight principles of great creative, and why taking a “client-first” approach to developing a creative strategy is essential to delivering optimal results.
The need to build trust isn’t limited to financial services, and customers can find out pretty much everything about a company with a quick Google search. This means that branding and creative ideas and messaging must ring true and be real. Don’t make bold claims, and don’t overuse industry jargon. Customers will notice and appreciate communications that are honest and transparent.
It’s more important for companies to provide solutions than to sell products, but how do you know what solutions to offer? Knowing what your customers want—and need—is the heart of great creative, and it means using analytics to get as much information as you can. But getting the data isn’t enough. You also need to evaluate what your company offers in light of that data. How will your services make your customers feel? Use your research to inform your creative brief and core messaging.
When you know your market, and you know what your competition is doing, you’re better able to use your customer insights to create solutions that deliver results. And in the midst of COVID-19, being relevant to customers has never been more important. The most successful creative developed in response to COVID-19 has focused on real people and puts their feelings first.
Attention is a scarce commodity in this digital age, so it’s essential that creative can compete. You’ve got just seconds to capture a customer’s attention, and magic is needed to hook them and make them think. This is where good creative teams should be spending the bulk of their time: coming up with unique ways to capture attention. Your audience is giving you their time, and delivering engaging content is the best way to repay them.
How can you come up with engaging content? Don’t worry if your first ideas don’t seem great: it’s often necessary to make a few mis-steps before you get to amazing. Be open to creativity and inspiration, encourage your team to take briefs in new directions, and above all, foster collaboration.
Great creative can’t exist without great copy. People won’t read rambling copy, so be concise, keep it simple, and get to the point. Copy should be straightforward, punchy, dynamic, and crisp—and it doesn’t need to go into detail. When you’ve got copy that looks finished, challenge your team to remove as many words as possible. You’ll be amazed at what can happen.
Digital technologies and social media platforms offer endless ways to launch your products and services. Even if you’ve got a great email with the right mix of copy and images, you can’t just cut and paste into social posts. Being influential on platforms like Instagram or Twitter requires adaptability, agility, and above all, an acute social radar. Once you know what’s trending, find ways to loop it back to your brand. Your social media posts are part of an ongoing conversation with your customers, so don’t be afraid to have some fun!
Even though big chunks of our lives are happening online, we still need to connect with each other, as humans, in real and meaningful ways. Brands that reflect their humanity in their creative strategy drive results with deeper customer relationships.
Customers remember brands with great creative, so don’t be afraid to take some risks. As you adopt these principles, look for ways to push the envelope. As Linda points out, “The results may surprise you, and they’ll certainly surprise and delight your audience.”
Companies that want to build better connections between their business objectives and their customers—customers who believe in them and what they have to offer—need great creative. As Linda states, “great creative is that magical combination of words and pictures that breaks through the noise and clutter. It’s the heart of every successful campaign and it deserves to be valued.”
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