Five Ideas for Smoother Creative Work

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Keeping direct marketing projects on time and on schedule takes work, savvy and people-knowledge. This is true no matter what your role in a project. So here are ideas on how to make marketing and creative work go smoothly:

1. Ask for deadlines, or propose time frames. Why would you solicit such pressure, you ask? Not because you're perverse, but because deadlines keep projects from slipping into oblivion. A bad way to learn about deadlines is to go beyond unstated ones and watch a project die. If deadlines are unreasonable, say so. Better to be honest than to fudge reality. Reality always wins, anyway.

2. Ask for - or create - good background positioning statements. Backgrounders give you the fuel to drive your creative. Ensure that you have in writing:

· Whom your market is - scientifically determined, at best; or at least experientially based.

· What the competition is, including sample marketing vehicles.

· Strengths of your product.

· Purchasing resistance points.

· Results of previous marketing efforts and more.

If your client does not provide you this road map, do not set forth into the desert without it. Write your own! The client will respect you for it and the professionalism of taking this extra step. Ask her to "yea" or "nay" the statement. Your creative juices are too valuable to waste on the desert sands.

3. Write outlines and concept statements. When you give clients and colleagues a document to focus on, they will help you to prioritize benefits and orientation. Doing it long before composing first draft copy helps enormously.

4. Offer very different concepts. Don't show a client "whiter shades of pale." Big differences potentially produce big results. Appeal to different emotions - greed vs. romantic appeal, for example.

5. Brainstorm beautifully. The creative session is your chance to let go. The entire marketing effort rests on this critical phase. Remember to brainstorm offers as well as creative approaches. Consider tried-and-true offers such as dollars off and discounts for multiple or early orders.

Also throw into the offer mix some unusual offer and premium ideas. These might be a dinner at a four-star restaurant, a free book or video or a free trendy gadget of the month (Palm Pilot or whatever else is hot). Don't knock "hot" if the item has proven appeal. Note: DM premium vendors will share real-life results with you on what's pulling. This is often free advice worth heeding.

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