I get asked all the time by clients, marketing executives and other creative pros “What formats work best or are working now?”
I always answer the same way: “There’s no magic bullet. What works is all about pairing the right format with the right creative concept that’s in line with the product, brand positioning and messaging.”
No one ever likes that answer. Everyone always wants a simpler one … A format that always works. A new printing technique that will cause everyone to stop and look. Personalization technique no one can ignore. The funny part? If I could answer that question,
I’d be the most well paid creative on the planet.
The Real Magic Bullet…Knowledge
So how do you create winning control packages? First, you need to understand everything you can about the product or service. Strengths and weaknesses; how it compares to competitive products; its unique selling proposition.
You need to understand everything about the buyers – who they are, why they buy, when they buy. You should also put yourself in their seat. This is only possible when you have a complete view of the customer, their persona and habits. Some products may have multiple customer personas. You’ll need to sell to these personas differently.
Lastly, you’ll need to see previous control packages and, even more importantly, packages that did not work. Review the winners – determine what elements seemed to be consistent. What you think worked. It may seem obvious, but don’t be fooled, it might not be what you think.
Then look at what didn’t work. I always learn more from these packages than I do from the winners. This helps you to know where you shouldn’t go.
Here’s the key to looking at past packages – try to understand how the creative concept helped or hindered the package’s success. This is not always easy to see, but important to review.
Patrick Fultz is the President/CCO of DM Creative Group, a creative marketing firm producing work across all media. He’s an art-side creative, marketing strategist, designer and lover of all things type. His credentials include a degree from Parsons School of Design with 15 years of teaching at his alma mater, over 40 industry creative awards, and he previously served as President of the John Caples International Awards. Always an innovator, Fultz was credited with creating the first 4-color variable data direct mail piece ever produced. He continues to look for innovative ways to tap the powerful synergy of direct mail, the web, digital and social media.