Inspiration is everywhere

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The creative process is a journey that starts with a blank sheet of paper and an open mind, but inspiration is what leads to great, original ideas. Great ideas don’t come from nowhere; they are formed from inspiration, from everywhere.

Today, I interviewed a young creative and when I asked what he thought of this year’s Cannes Lions Direct winners, there was a long silence – he didn’t know what had won.

Inspiration, of course, is all around us, but especially in the award-winning work of others. As direct marketing becomes more of a philosophy, it is the ground-breaking ideas and employment of craft skills that explore new ways, through direct channels to engage with consumers, that we should take notice of and be inspired by. It is easy to settle for traditional techniques and methodology that still work to an extent, but seeing how others have explored beyond that opens the way to huge, new creative territories with the potential of better results.

It is a fact that award-winning Direct Marketing work, works. Results are a big part of the judging process and judges can recognize hyped figures a mile off. These awarded case histories that are in the public domain can also have a great influence on clients whose heads are full of the traditional DM techniques – absorbed from all the books on the subject they’ve read – when justifying creative proposals with informed insights.

For me, an almost daily dose of great creative work and strategy is a necessary inspiration to do great work for clients and creatively meet their marketing challenges. It is not the pursuit of awards that gets us up in the morning, but the pursuit of great, original ideas that are, hopefully, subsequently recognized by our peers for working.

There are several places that I personally visit regularly for inspiration. Award show sites are an obvious one. I mentioned ‘creative solutions to marketing problems’ which is what the John Caples International Awards recognizes. Cannes Lions and Echo’s are the other 2 big international DM shows worth checking out. There are also many other regional and national show sites worth visiting, especially those in Australia and New Zealand who continually ‘punch above their weight’ when it comes to awards.

Other great sources of inspiration are Contagious and Directory which are both quarterly subscription magazines. The latter is a fantastic showcase of the best DM campaigns in the world which invites submissions to be selected for inclusion. Stuart Archibald, a highly awarded UK creative, recently called it “the bible of best practice direct.”

Last, but not least, is the brilliant blog, Daily which is updated daily by a passionate creative in the Netherlands. He uploads all the best award-winning campaigns and trawls the Web for original campaigns that have been uploaded on the many creative work sites. Well worth a visit.

I gave this list to the creative I mentioned and wished him well for his future career in DM, as he wasn’t inspired enough to work for us yet.

DMNotes is DMN's around-the-clock blog. Yes, a blog in 2016.

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