Creativity on Demand

As a member of the marketing team in the travel and tourism industry, I work closely with artists, writers, designers, account planners and creative directors to develop destination advertising that will motivate target audiences to take action (click a link, make a phone call, buy something). Our work is always time-sensitive because of client needs, budgets and media deadlines. Creating effective travel and destination advertising – and doing it on demand – takes a disciplined approach to the creative process.

Inspiration: Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t

Sure, there are moments of inspiration and concepts that write themselves, and we always joke about our computers’ amazing one-touch functions, with buttons labeled, ‘retouch photo’ or ‘write brochure.’ If the creative process were this simple, agency billing efficiencies would go through the roof, and a lot of talented slackers would be forced to look for real jobs. 

Most days, the creative process is just plain hard work (for most of us it’s a labor of love and a lot of fun, too). Coming up with hundreds of ideas, recognizing the diamonds in the rough and polishing those gems ‘til they sparkle, all with a deadline looming large – this is the challenge of ‘creative on demand.’

And then, there are those times when nothing comes to mind. So, how do you overcome writer’s block? And more importantly, how do you deliver a successful marketing campaign on time and under budget? It’s simple: just press the ‘generate award winning campaign’ button. Okay, the IT group is still working out the bugs on that one, so here are a few more suggestions to get you started.

The deadline is looming. Where to begin...

When struggling with a creative challenge, ask yourself: What am I selling? What makes this product different or special? Who is the audience? How can I make my message more relevant to the viewer and medium? What’s the single most important idea I want to get across? (That’s often the nudge that gets me back on track.) Once you’re grounded in the parameters of the task, you can turn loose the creative mind.

At the concept stage, that means coming up with ideas. Lots of ideas: big ideas, small ideas, strategic ideas and ridiculous ideas. When brainstorming there are no bad ideas, so don’t self-edit, and write everything down. The first 50 may seem obvious, but the next 50 may be ideas that can change the game.

For a writer, it’s time to write. Write anything, write poetry, write in someone else’s voice – just write. Don’t be concerned with the finished draft, just get the words flowing. The secret to great writing is rewriting, so the first draft is just that; likely followed by a second, a third, and sometimes many more versions. So write.

For the designer, it’s time to get visual. That may mean searching photo sites, creating thumbnail sketches to organize visual elements or experimenting with composition, scale or color. 

You have an idea. Where do you go from here?