Friday, February 24, 2012

You are what you write.

         Every once in a while, an advertising writer gets an assignment that looks overwhelming. There are a hundred facts and every one seems important. All the technical data sounds like it should be told; every detail in the brief you're given screams to be included.

         My advice: put it in a drawer and forget about it for a day or two.

         Soon your brain, which has been unconsciously working on it, begins to sort things out. You do what you've always done as a professional. You begin to look at it from the reader's point of view. What's important to her. And your inscrutable problem morphs into a good ad.

         Here are some suggestions from a creative director who's been in this place time after time.

         1. When you're given an assignment, listen. Try to absorb all you can. Even if it's information overload. You never know what will come to the rescue later.

         2. Try not to come to a conclusion too early. That may be the very conclusion you'll come to later,
but don't shut yourself off from a full exploration.

         3. Think hard about the target market. Remember, people who buy a 3" drill don't want a 3" drill --- they want a 3" hole. Think benefits, not features. Think about the stage of the buying process they're in.
They may or may not want all that information at this early point. Maybe you should go for awareness of the product, for instance.

        4.  Explore a universe of ideas. You're a writer, not an editor --- at least not at first. Write 12 headlines, with visuals for each. Write 5 taglines, each pointing in a different direction. Now go do something else.

        5.  Come back with an art director and go over them. These ideas might spark one that's even better.

       6.  Now give it the "will this really do the job?" treatment. Look at it again from the customer's point of view. Is it convincing? Who will it convince to do what?

       You'll see. Even these complicated "everything's important" assignments can turn into great advertising.

        If you give them room to breathe.

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