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Episode 3: How to Think Like a Creative Director

Episode 3: How to Think Like a Creative Director

Hey everyone, Peter Kozodoy here. Thanks for tuning into Stradeso, where we turn your problems into projects. Now, I don’t like problems; I prefer that they get handled. Im sure you agree. And in our series of videos, we’re going to explain how we can help you handle your problems as well.

Today we’re going to talk about how to think and act like a creative director. Have you ever wondered, “How do those agencies and creative directors come up with stuff? Their work is so interesting and creative.”

Everyone talks about creative. However, at our agency, we often discussed that we don’t really care how creative a campaign is as long as it sells what we’re trying to sell. It may seem counter-intuitive, but remember that everything you do in marketing and sales is intended to sell something, not just be art for art’s sake. Nonetheless, there are tips and tricks that creative directors use to make things more fun, creative, and here’s the important part: more effective.

So here’s the thing: Creativity isn’t about reading books and painting and going on a 10-mile hike in the middle of the day. It’s not about waiting for inspiration to strike from above. Believe it or not, being creative is very formulaic. There is a documented number of steps to go through that will get you to creativity, and one of the keys to thinking and acting like a creative director is this idea of familiarity.

The most “creative” things you’ve ever seen actually aren’t that out-of-the-box. They tap into things that are very familiar to you. And in that way, they build this connection, this bond, between you and whatever brand it is and what that brand is trying to communicate.

So we can circle back to this, but now let me take you through a couple of these “how to think like creative director” tips. The very first thing is to start with the basics: Who is the audience and what do they want? You’ll be shocked at how many times this essential step does not happen. Mostly companies just come at the project with, “Well, I want to sell them cars so I’m going to talk about cars and all the features of cars.”

What they forget is that the person sitting there isn’t necessarily thinking about cars or thinking about transportation, they’re thinking about how they feel when they drive. They’re thinking about the car’s benefits while the company just wants to teach the customer about all of the car’s features.

So the number one thing here is that you need to deeply understand your audience. Not only that, you also need to understand and segment your audience accordingly from cold to warm. And here’s why that’s really important. Someone who is a warm audience member, by definition, already knows what you’re selling; they are intimately aware that they need an automobile, for instance.

That’s the solution to their problems. So you can talk to them about the features of the car and all the cool ways it drives, and so on and so forth, and they’re like, “Yeah I’m with you. I need a car and I need to know all these things so I can pick a car.” That’s warm.

But another problem that brands get into is that they use the same language with their warm audience as they do with their cold audience. So they’re saying, “Hey you need a car so here’s all the cool stuff about the car.” But the person sitting there is like, “I don’t know that I need a car. I just know that I’m moving to a new town and I’m 5 miles from work, and I have to figure out how to get there.”

So if you’re talking to that person, it’s not, “Hey, we have the coolest seat belts that make an awesome sound when you click them into the seat.” That would be too in the weeds. Instead, you have to talk to this person on a deeper level:

“Hey welcome to your new community. I see you’re trying to get from point A to point B. What are all the things you’ve considered to solve your problem? Here are all the different things about different transportation methods that you may want to think about. 

Here are the benefits of a bus. Here are the benefits of a plane. Those may be options, but they might also be excessive for 5 miles. Oh, by the way, I think your best bet might be a car. Here are the reasons why.”

And we haven’t even talked about the features of the car yet.

I give that as an example so you can think about your own product or service. You could fill in the blank with any type of product or service, but you have to be honest with yourself. This is part of thinking like a creative director — about where in the funnel that person is. Are they cold or are they warm? What do they think they need?

This is all about “who is the audience and what does it want” because if you attack an audience member with the wrong part of the message and/or the wrong part of the funnel, the message isn’t going to be familiar to them and they’re not going to immediately see it and know it’s for them. That’s the worst thing you could have happen. That’s how brands take millions of dollars and throw it out the window because they haven’t thought about how this particular message is going to land on this particular person.

And it all has to do with what the person wants and where in the funnel they are. Once you’ve got that basic understanding, it’s time to say, “Okay, let’s walk it back now that we know exactly what they want. They’re thinking about transportation.”

Now, how do you come up with a creative solution to communicate with them? Again, go back to familiarity. The best marketers blend familiarity into the message. Think about things like idioms. Some of the best taglines you’ve ever known have been rhyme schemes or idiomatic expressions that we say all the time that are tweaked just slightly — like the title of my book. You’ve all heard “honest to goodness.” For example, “put it in an honest to goodness effort.” So, my book’s title “Honest to Greatness” is a little bit familiar; you probably feel like you’ve heard that before because you have with “honest to goodness.”

Take a look at Stradeso’s tagline, “Build your brand on demand.” Read that out loud, it’s a great rhyme scheme. Plus, you know what “on demand” means because of other companies like XFinity have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure you know what “on demand means.” So now I can piggyback on that because it’s familiar to you.

And that says stuff about what we’re trying to give you. It says that our service will be quick and fast and whatever you want and prefer. So these are all the reasons why you want to tap into these rhyme schemes, idioms, words that are familiar to your audience. And remember that only works if you segment your funnel correctly.

So, that was a lot, but you get the idea. These are the systems that creative directors think in. Just having those basics is going to put you way ahead of the crowd from the marketers who are just talking about their product or service in their own terms and haven’t put the hat on of their prospective customer in the exact part of the funnel where they’re living. Hopefully this helped you turn your problems and projects. See you next time.