Before you start reading this blog, be sure you’ve read the introduction to it. It’s in this blog post here. To continue on the topic of how to develop a creative campaign from scratch, in this article, I will go through all the steps required, giving some PROtips along the way.
Step #1: Deploy the problem statement
The creative campaign creation shouldn’t start without having a creative brief first. Your solution can be the best, but if you haven’t responded to the client’s needs first, all of your work is in vain. So, once you’ve studied the brief, you’re good to go. PROtip #1: Every member of the team should read the copy of the brief by themselves, while almost everything else is done in a group. This time is used to create a problem statement. A problem statement is a short document. It should briefly determine some of the most important things to know about the creative campaign:
- Why is the campaign needed?
- Who are the people affected by the campaign?
- What is the expected behavior those people should adopt after the campaign?
The problem statement will, later on, serve as a foundation and a beacon for the campaign. A well-established problem statement should answer a couple of questions stated above. The example of answers to those questions are:
- The campaign is needed to raise brand awareness of a sugar-free, natural energy drink.
- The people affected by the campaign are the people who are watching their diet, but also drink energy drinks.
- Those people should, after the campaign is over, have a much better awareness of the harmful effects sugar and artificial energy drinks have on our health, as well as getting the desire to find a suitable replacement.
Step #2: Choose the brainstorm team
The following part I already hinted in vol. 1. of this topic. While selecting your team, be sure to include people of different profiles and backgrounds. Besides creative professionals, your team will do great with SBCC experts, technical experts, and someone familiar with the country laws where you’re preparing the creative campaign. Before the first brainstorming session, you should assign roles in the creative campaign development team:
- Team leader – CEO in smaller, and a project manager or creative director in bigger creative agencies. That person should coordinate all the activities, provide background information, and develop the problem statement.
- Facilitator – In smaller brainstorm groups, that’s the same person as a team leader. The facilitator should lead the brainstorm with open mind and encouragement while keeping the group focused on the task at hand.
- Notetaker – A person who takes note of ideas. After the brainstorming session is over, the note taker should summarise the session and send out the copies to everyone involved
- Team members – The most important thing is that team members share their ideas, no matter how crazy they might be. Those ideas might be a driver for someone else’s brain juices to start flowing.
PROtip #2: The rule of mutual consideration and acknowledgment should be maintained at all times. That means no interrupting others as well.
Step #3: Organizing the brainstorming session
Well, the title pretty much explains this step. The brainstorming session should be organized in a comfortable room equipped with proper office equipment such as markers, papers, etc. The room where the brainstorming will take place doesn’t need to be in the office. It’s even better if the room is unusual in some way. Different wall paint, some objects or toys in there, etc. PROtip #3: Encourage your team members to prepare for the brainstorming by watching or listening to something inspirational.
While I was at college, my marketing teacher told me a funny story. He was participating in a brainstorming session, and he and his team couldn’t quite get the right idea. Then the cleaning lady came, and she wanted to kick them out because she wanted to go home as well. She then asked them what are they talking about, and gave them a solution that was just the thing they needed. The point is, you can never know who can give you the best solution.
Step #4: Provide background for the brainstorm
Assuming the everybody present had familiarized themselves with the project at hand, the facilitator initiates the brainstorming session. He does that by stating the desired outcomes of the creative campaign. PROtip #4: Always bear the result of the campaign in mind. Just like a trainer at the start of a football match, when he explains the tactics, so should you. State the methods and list some ground rules:
- no wandering off topic
- there’s no such thing as a lousy idea
- no interrupting
- state your ideas quickly, but slow enough to get them written down
- no commenting on the idea during the brainstorm
After the ideas stop flying in at a certain pace, and there’s plenty of them, turn to analysis. PROtip #5: Get your analytics team to analyze anything that could be of use – keywords, audience, market situation, etc.
Step #5: Induce creativity
In one of our previous blog posts, you can get ten solutions for inducing creativity. There’s no such thing as an ultimate rule for causing creativity. It’s important to know that you can skip this step as it takes a lot of time, but you can skip it only if the team is in the right, creative mood. This step is usually omitted when the team’s prepared in advance. PROtip #6: Organize brainstorming sessions on Mondays. Why? Well, because, you can use Friday to let to know everyone included what are your plans. In addition to that, we might all hate Mondays, but the fact that we’re the freshest and most productive on Mondays stands.
If your team gets stuck during the brainstorm, try different techniques to get those idea juices flowing:
- Creative roadblocks removal – What would you do if there weren’t any limits (i.e., time, budget, technical requirements, etc.).
- Roadblock deployment – Create a ridiculous barrier to induce thinking in a new way (e.g., the audience never heard of the internet, or you have to include trees in your idea).
- Impersonating the problem solver – You can ask the participants something like: What would Chuck Norris do?
- Relocate participants – Ask the participants to sit or stand somewhere else.
- Risky business – Request an idea that would get you in trouble; usually, the best ideas are crazy ones, lowered down a notch.
- Change the point of view: Get your participant to imagine they were in a different location such as the sea, the mountains, or maybe a different country. Ask them to state the idea from that point of view.
Step #6: Standalone work
After the brainstorming session, give your team about half an hour to work on ideas individually. Develop a unique method of writing down different ideas, not just listing them in their notepads. For instance, you can give each participant a few small square papers of varying color. Hand them out with the sole explanation they should write ideas on the papers. You just might be amazed by all the different results you get. PROtip #7: Set up a rule that all papers must be filled with one idea. This way, you’re able to control the number of views you’re going to get, and by defining a timeframe, you’re managing the level of elaboration of those ideas.
Step #7: Water down ideas and make them grow
This step also depends on the size of your team. For a bigger team, make smaller groups, and group everyone if your team is smaller (under 5, 6 people). If you have more groups, be sure to mix different profiles in each group. Collect all the ideas and hand them to the teams. Ask them to pick a few and develop them additionally. After that, swap the ideas between if you have more than one team. Before doing this, exclude the repeating ideas, so each idea has an equal chance. After this part is over, select the ideas with the most potential and the ones chosen the most times.
If we had to draw idea as a shape, not as an object, each person would most probably come up with a different form. That’s because ideas can take all kinds of forms, and the shape of the idea is changeable. Some tricks for changing ideas:
- Contrasting: Imagine the opposite of the idea at hand
- Adding: Read the idea out loud, then say: “in addition to that, we can also…” (have the team to complete the sentence)
- Associating: Ask your team what does the idea remind them of
- Dissecting: Tear apart the idea, and see if you can make the components better
Step #8: Pick the idea finalists
While leading to this moment subtly all along, this is the time for the best ideas to get credited. List all of the ideas on a board, screen, or a piece of paper. You can use any voting for ideas, but I recommend dot voting. Before the voting starts, try to explain to participants that they don’t vote according to their general likeness of the idea, but instead based on necessary conditions:
- Idea satisfies the requirements of the brief
- It is appropriate for the targeted audience
- Communication objectives and critical benefits are met, and barriers are smitten
- The solution is suitable for channels you were planning to use it on
- The idea is not the copy of something recent or seen too many times
- Can it be expanded even further?
A team leader has the final say when it decides on the idea. After all, the team leader is the person responsible for the creative campaign success. You can use all kinds of techniques for evaluating ideas such as SWOT analysis or the six thinking hats method.
Step #9: Is the idea feasible?
As I already stated before, even the best idea is worth nothing if it’s not feasible. This part is particularly tricky. PROtip #8: Ask somebody else to evaluate your final idea(s). Let’s put ourselves in the situation for a bit. People are working on the idea for a long time. They often think about the project off work as well. It’s not too weird that some participants might get attached to an idea, especially if they proposed it. So, somebody from the outside of the circle should state their opinion on a topic to see if you got it right. Remember, that person should hear that idea for the first time, and if the reaction is “eh!”, You have to re-evaluate your best idea and see if it could be improved. Ask for the flaws of the idea, a person new to the problem might see something your team missed.
Step #10: Start the next phase
Start knocking on your visual content production team doors and ask them to prepare the visuals for your final ideas. Ideally, after the visuals are ready, you should test the whole idea with the audience. Besides the elaboration of the idea and the visuals, your concept should contain a headline, tagline, and an underlying message. Show the final product to the people who are your targeted audience. For instance, if you’re going to advertise a kids toy, be sure to show your idea to some kids to see if it catches their interest.
As I mentioned before, this process can take up to two months, depending on the variable elements of the creative campaign such as size, people involved, budget, time of delivery, etc. If all of this seems too much, consider hiring an agency like ours.