Creatives must have plenty of freedom for exploration…to a degree. We’re not throwing shade on our creative peers but ultimately work must be on strategy, and creative thinkers frequently don’t want to stay the course. This is why we created our own checklist for creative development. It’s designed to quickly bring greater focus and insight to the entire process. Like all things that are simple, it’s easy to initially underestimate––but hard to ignore when put into practice. Here’s the five-word checklist.
We begin with the central question: “Why are we really doing this assignment?” and distill the answer into one sentence. Varying responses to this question spell trouble because, invariably, all sense of clarity of purpose are lost. We steadfastly refuse, at this point, to use the word objective. Forget jargon. For example, if we want to get more people to know about a product, just say that.
We ask, “Who do we (aka our client’s brand) really want to mingle with?” This is a wildly different question than “who is the target?”––which so often elicits a dull, demographic response. This will precipitate all sorts of valuable questions about the event itself. For instance, if we’re brainstorming event ideas––what do the guests really care about, do they have shared interests, and more.
Before developing concepts, we focus on a very direct statement about what the core idea of the creative should be. Again, one sentence, stripped of artificial language and set free from marketing trends. Focus on the core creative idea, don’t skip ahead to executional elements. This is particularly hard in experiential marketing where big, attention-getting programs are the order of the day. Before you get to that, make sure that there’s a there, there.
Creatives love the development phase because it’s all about the execution. But it is also fraught with the most danger. The core creative concept can so easily get lost in the excitement. Trends take over. The desire to force VR or AR when it doesn’t fit can become problematic. It’s easy to fall in love with an execution and then make excuses for why that the concept is non-existent. Don’t fall for it.
The most colloquial and least formal question may be the most important. We step away from the process and ask if this would matter to the group of people identified by the “Who.” Hopefully, the answer will be enthusiastic so that you can proceed to develop the program. If the answer is “meh” or “maybe,” walk away now and choose another concept. If need be, begin the entire process over again.
The key point is not that you should use this list––but to develop a list to cross check your own creative development against. This may appear overly simple, but that, in itself, is the point. Insist on plain speak, freed from marketingese and you’ll immediately see greater clarity and humanity in your experiential marketing program.