The Creative Conundrum

Recently we were in a final pitch and lost. Losing hurts, but it also allows you to look back and find ways to improve. First there were 12; then 4; and finally just JD and another firm.

Some takeaways from the experience:

  • Despite the critical importance of relevancy, better-looking creative still wins out. We can talk until our faces turn the same color as a Minnesota Viking uniform, but most marketing communication professionals put aside the results that win and gravitate toward “prettier”, “sexier”, usually less relevant creative work.  Facts can’t seem to win this argument.
  • Clients say they want measurement in their marketing, but seem to prefer work that’s eye candy and get mesmerized away from the measurement equation and spellbound by the WOW. Measurement loses.
  • PR is considered less important than gorgeous ads. PR is far more effective and can be measured if done correctly.
  • A process that incorporates testing is dismissed and the “mass media” mindset takes ahold and refuses to let go. Process wins over gut instincts almost every time, but, again, it’s hard to “sell”.
  • Brutal, and I do mean cut-to-the-core –honesty —  loses to a better presentation. I refuse to lie or stretch the truth to win business.

I am still fighting, however. At the end of the day, the C-suite still needs results, not pretty pictures. CMO tenures’ south of  18 months, why? Because they refuse to understand that great creative is the stuff that sells, not the kind that wins awards. I will continue to try and convince our clients and prospects alike about finding the critical balance between pretty and effective. The goal remains to help them grow.

If you both need and WANT measurable marketing that will drive revenue for you, I hope to hear from you soon.

Grant A. Johnson


About johnsondirect

A prominent measurable marketing strategist and nationally recognized thought leader, Grant serves as president and chief marketing officer for Johnson Direct, a measurable marketing communications and direct branding™ counseling firm that employs multi-channel marketing strategies that are testable and accountable. He is also a sought-after public speaker, marketing trainer, award-winning author, copywriter, and consultant.
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