Creatives either like to hash out ideas alone or have a meeting of the minds - brainstorming. Sometimes brainstorm sessions can be so intense, they'll go on for hours, even days. (You'll look at your co-workers differently when they are glassy-eyed and haven't showered.) Here's some tips to weather your next brainstorm and make it more productive.
Walk in with ideas. Take some time to gather your thoughts. Get the ball rolling quickly with some thought starters. There's nothing more counter productive than staring at each other until an idea pops into your head.
Go first. Yes, this is an ego thing. Don't wait to see if someone in the group has a similiar great idea. Put yours out there first and get credit for it.
Never remain silent. You where brought in to speak your mind. No one can read it. Here no one has use for a deep thinker who can't share.
Share every idea. People say there are no bad ideas. That's not necessarily true. There are ideas you use and ideas you don't use. An unusable idea helps strengthen the current big idea. If you have nothing to compare the big idea to, it's easy to doubt its strength as a concept.
Don't get defensive. If they don't like your idea, let it go and don't attack others for it.
Accept ideas from all sources. Don't let egos blind you to a great idea. I was once in a session were an art director came up with a better theme line and tag line than mine. Yea, it hurt, but I had to admit it was good copy - and the clients loved it.
Basically, it stated Ebert never allowed himself to become "that old newspaper guy," someone set in his ways and is slow to change. Decades ago, he made the jump to television when that was rare for newspaper reporters and he was an early adopter of the Internet and social media.
The mentallity "adapt or die" (or adopt, in this case) is why he flourished. You won't find too many people in their 70's working in a newsroom.
At age 45, like it or not, this business considers me to be an old ad guy. I don't allow myself to think like one. If I did, I should quit the business right now. I keep myself relevant by:
Education. I'm back in school studying for a master's degree in new media.
Reading. Aside from school books, I read as much relevant material as time will allow - from books to blogs.
Networking. I talk to vendors. attend ad club events, go to seminars.
I may be a "senior copywriter," but by no means am I a senior. I put in all of this work to keep me open to new ideas and opportunities. There's no room for old thinking for this "old ad guy."
Yes, my posts have been spotty lately. (It's good to be missed.) I was a bit busy with my new career. If you're a regular reader, take comfort in the fact that I practice what I preach. EVERYTHING I've told you about how to land a job in this industry are the same steps, I used to find my new career path.
In the end, I was picking from more than one job offer.
I'm now Sr. Copywriter and Communications Specialist for US Foods, one of the major suppliers to restaurants across the nation.
What? Not an ad agency?
One observation I've made is that it's a confusing time for agencies. Some are unsure about hiring, because of uncertainties concerning their accounts. Some clients are squeezing out agencies, building up their own marketing departments and doing the work themselves to save money. More important, they are staffing up with talent with ad agency backgrounds. So I refocused my efforts. The response couldn't have been better.
I got more calls.
I got more interviews.
And I got multiple job offers.
At my new position, the work is challenging. And the people are great. It's like working at an agency with only one client and fewer layers of approvals. (Gotta love that.) Here's a project I did on my first week:
Check out my old Ad Grad Project 2009 posts. I've always said that you don't have to work at an ad agency to do agency work.
Getty Images. iStockphoto. Corbis Images. There are hundreds of stock photography houses creatives go to for ideas, inspiration and to create. And everyone has their favorite image spot for shots. So when we all go to the same place, things like this can happen:
So I'm flipping through the pages of Chicago Magazine and find this finance ad. Just weeks earlier, my team and I were about to purchase the same shot for a healthcare ad.
Yes, the team behind this ad beat us to the punch, but they didn't purchase exclusive usage of the photo, allowing others to buy the photo, too.
We rely on stock photography because it's time saving and it's far cheaper than a shoot. But it's to your benefit (and definitely the client's) to spend a little more and buy the rights.
Imagine the cost and the embarrassment if our ads appeared in the same publications.
I must admit that I'm not a huge fan of teasers and sneak previews of Super Bowl ads. It's not that some aren't entertaining. When it comes to teasers, there's a risk of creating an expectation the spots won't live up to. (We all know Super Bowl ads go through harsher criticisms than other commercials.) And seeing ads days before the game is like opening presents days before Christmas. I prefer enjoying all the festivities at the appropriate time. That's just me. So don't watch these if you feel the same. (This is an advertising blog - I had to post some.)
So with all the hype built around Beyoncé at halftime and the usual commercial fanfare, do you even know who's playing on Super Bowl Sunday? Be sure to party safely.
So I'm standing in the Chicago cold waiting for my train to go to work. I'm frozen in place staring at some outdoor boards. One catches my eye, but for the wrong reasons.
It has a QR code.
My first thought: Standing on my side of the tracks, there's no way my phone or tablet would be able to scan it.
My second thought: If I was on the other side, why would I stop to scan it when I'm catching or leaving my train?
Over 15 years ago, I had high expectations for QR codes. I really thought it would revolutionize the way we shared content. It became a novelty, because a lot of uninspired marketing used it incorrectly, such as applying it to inappropriate places. The worst offense was giving users weak content when they made the effort to scan it. (I don't know if that was the case for this ad.) So by suffering through a lot of bad content, QR scanning turned into a fad. Sad.
This year, smartphones are predicted to surpass PCs as the most used device to access the web. But as cloud computing creates a bigger digital storm, we'll be more tuned into our services than our devices. We need to deliver on making the mobile experience bigger and more unique, not as a dumping ground for existing content.
Don't allow your clients or you to take a lazy route with today's innovations.
For example, I'm looking for marketers to create some great experiences with NFC (near field communications) and make people want to really reach out and touch someone with their phones.
I'm going to be shivering in Chicago, while geeks will be warming up to the latest gadgetry at 2013 International CES, January 8-11.
CES (Consumer Electronics Association) is a huge technology trade show held every January. It's not open to the public, but invited guests (largely media) get to preview products that may be the next big thing in 2013 (or not, 3D TV was major news here a few years ago).
Why watch? It's important to scope out what you may be working with in a digital campaign. Then take time to understand it to take advantage of it. Look for innovations in gaming and with mobile, of course. But pay close attention to innovators and start-ups. (I won't embarrass myself and try to predict what will catch on - and no, I don't own a 3D TV.)
So if you aren't on the CES guest list, there will be plenty of live streaming of the latest tech news. Let me know what catches your eye.
I have an extensive background in direct marketing (DM), so I may be a bit bias when I call direct marketers some of the hardest working and most creative people in the business. Think about it: Sometimes they have to generate results only using a 8.5x11in. piece of paper and a business-size envelope. No high-production TV spot. Plus, they are trying to be seen among the clutter of bills in your mailbox.
(Caples finalist by MRM Stockholm)
If you want to see the creatives who do it best, including interactive, check out the winners of 2012 Caples Awards (announced Dec. 7).
According to the site:
The Caples Awards, honoring the best in direct and interactive marketing around the world, was founded in 1978 by Andi Emerson, a direct marketing pioneer, in order to honor well-recognized copywriter John Caples. With international chairs in 50 countries, it is supported by industry agencies, clients and suppliers; is run by industry volunteers; and is judged by more than 50 active, senior-level, international creative professionals. Over 200 creatives and marketers from around the world attend the annual awards presentation.
There's a strong belief that no one hires during the holiday season. If you believe that and slow up your efforts, you may miss some opportunities.
Many recruiters have year-end goals to fill.
Companies still have some positions they need filled before Jan. 1.
Stores aren't the only places that need holiday help. Ad agencies and marketing firms are always dealing with clients who still have money to spend on one big year-end push. That could lead to a temp or temp-to-hire position.
It doesn't mean there are jobs-a-plenty. But if you can help it, don't take a holiday break. Use a holiday card to reconnect with old contacts. Make your Santa's list of the good positions out there and continue to push forward. You may end up with more reasons to celebrate this year.
But if you really must take a break, at least take time to do a resume and portfolio review. Then go into 2013 with a tighter game plan.
Clifton Simmons, Chicago Copywriter known for creating promotional goodness for McDonald's, Coke, Chevy, Chrysler, USAA, Michelin and more. Also heavily involved in experiential marketing and new
trends. The fine print: This is my blog, so these are my opinions - not my agencies and their clients.