I sat down with Rob Krug, a Creative Director I’ve worked with on several projects, to get his take on how to create successful marketing campaigns.
Rob’s been a creative force behind numerous B2B and B2C brands and spent 11 years at Unilever, home to brand names such as Lipton teas, Suave hair care and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Leading a team of designers, photographers, web coders and copy writers, he carved his niche in the marketing communications world by applying a proven creative process that produces results.
Every company engaged in marketing wants to see results. Those results are defined in myriad ways. Moving the needle. Generating a Return on Investment (ROI). Moving prospects through the pipeline. Converting web site visitors. Engaging consumers.
But what’s the common thread among successful marketing campaigns? I believe the creative process plays a big role. That’s why I dive into it in this conversation.
Q: What’s the ideal approach to start the process?
A: An interview is the best way to initiate the creative process. Research comes first. I have to know the client’s business AND bring my unique perspective on it. I already know the answers I’m looking for but I target the interview questions to draw it out of them. Once this is drawn out, that’s when the visual and creativity can start to take shape.
A good creative knows how to get to the end result but the collaboration between client and creative has to happen for it work. Both sides work in tandem.
Q: Why is this process so important to marketing communications?
A: My mantra has always been less is more. The point has to be gotten across in one glance. Consumers and prospective buyers are bombarded with messages. They simply don’t have the time or energy to absorb everything.
Q: How does good marketing connect with the target audience?
A: Early in my career, Unilever sent me to the IBM Learning Center in New York, to sharpen my creative leadership skills. The primary focus was how best to connect with consumers. I learned good advertising takes the same approach as a museum, where there is a lot of stuff to look at. Museum exhibits are complex and loaded with data / info / details. Museums have been doing this well: they have very little verbage and stage exhibits so guests are lured into to it amidst a lot of white noise and visual distraction.
Q: Can you give an example of how that works in the real world?
A: I took the museum approach when I was with Edstrom Industries, a manufacturer of highly engineered products. I distilled tons of product detail down to “how is this going to change my life?” How is it going to make my life easier?
My goal was to come up with graphics, images and text for our trade show booth so that attendees walking in the aisle could know instantly how this complex product fit into their life. Then our engineers could explain to them the deeper layers of detail.
Feature the product, make it look sexy and show them in a linear fashion which served to lure attendees in. Less is more!
Q: Why should companies bring in an outside firm?
A: The value of bringing in the outside firm: it’s their job to supply the much-needed fresh thinking. Otherwise all marketing materials, etc. begin to look the same over and over. Rarely is the best idea to do it on your own. If nothing else, bring in outside thinkers from around the office or talk to close colleagues who can challenge the status quo. Call some customers, take them out to lunch, ask them what it’s going to take to get their attention.
A number of variables will contribute to successful marketing campaigns. A well-defined target audience, good market research and an easy-to-understand offer. Chief among the variables you have to nail is the creative process.
Marketing has to be relevant and concise. Consumers are bombarded by marketing messages from everywhere: on the internet, smart phone, TV, radio and billboards. According to Rob, “Creative is not just visual, it’s about timing, adaptability and leaving a memorable impression with the consumer because you’ve connected with them. Don’t try to win the award, make sure consumers remember the brand.”