Creativity Is Key to Good Direct Marketing

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SAN FRANCISCO -- If anyone attending the keynote speech yesterday at the 14th Direct Marketing to Business show expected to hear the usual platitudes about marketing, they never heard Andy Stefanovich speak.

To say that Stefanovich is passionate about his business is to put it mildly. Equal parts motivational speaker and maniac, he bounded on stage clutching a basketball and proceeded to tell the crowd about a pair of red leather shoes he recently bought.

"They make me look like Bozo," he joked.

Stefanovich, the founder of Play, a Richmond, VA.-based creative consultancy, holds the title of In Charge of What's Next. He came to the DMB show to impart one simple idea: direct marketing is creative communications.

"Creative communications is what direct marketing is all about," he said. Taking a page out of the Yogi Berra phrasebook, he added, "You're never done until you're done."

According to Stefanovich, Play exists to help marketers re-think the way they approach their business. There is always more than one way to approach a situation, he said, and marketers should approach their projects creatively and go with the simplest solution.

"We need to demystify things," he said. "Our mission is to make creativity the single most important thing for businesses worldwide. You have to look at more stuff and think about it harder."

Play, Stefanovich said, has worked with some of the biggest marketers in the business, including Coca-Cola, Phillip Morris and General Motors.

"Kellogg hired us to reinvent breakfast," he said.

Stefanovich communicates with people by using "think cards," little index cards with inspirational or witty sayings imprinted on them. He rarely uses e-mail to communicate with colleagues at Play, he noted, preferring to use the cards, which have a way of getting to the point quickly.

One of his favorite "think cards" reads: "When you see an opportunity, freakin' seize it," he said.

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