The Care and Feeding of the Creative Mind
Breakthrough creative. Everyone wants it. Few achieve it. If you’re on the client side and want to get the most out of your creative partners, here are a few tips on how to play the muse to your creative team.
1. Provide useful background
In the “olden days” before the Internet, I used to ask all new clients for annual reports, articles, press releases, direct-mail samples and other printed materials to get a feel for the mission, tone and voice of the organization. Today, much of that background information is available online. It’s generally a good thing, but only if the client Web site is updated frequently. Sometimes a Web search can send a writer or artist in the wrong direction if your Web site features people, events and programs that no longer are relevant.
That’s why I like to have the client provide a brief “what’s hot?” document before beginning a new package. “Brief” is the key word here. We don’t need 10 press releases and every bit of information you have -- that’s information overload. Just give us a hot topic, like an emotional story of a person recently helped by your organization, a new program that’s experiencing great results or a research breakthrough that donors will find compelling.
2. Have a plan
A written creative strategy is a good way to outline the audience, goals, copy points, deadlines and sacred cows in a given creative project. In fact, just the exercise of going through this step with your agency will help clarify the project in your mind and provide a basis for judging how well the creative execution fulfills your needs.
If you don’t do a written creative strategy or brief, you should at least have a team meeting or conference call to describe what you’re trying to accomplish. The worst thing to do would be to have your creative team start a project without clear direction.
Steve Maggio is an industry leader who has provided innovative strategy and creative for more than 200 nonprofits in his 30-year career. Since co-founding DaVinci Direct Inc. in 2005, Steve has served national accounts Disabled American Veterans, Lupus Foundation of America, Muscular Dystrophy Association, American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, National Jewish Health and several faith-based charities, as well as regional healthcare, humane society, social service and international nonprofits. His teams have won more than 250 awards, including DMA ECHO, DMAW MAXI, DMFA Package of the Year, and NEDMA Awards for Creative Excellence, including Best of Show.