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Creative Philosophy 101

February 15

"We won't DO creative. Rather, we'll develop comprehensive and strategic programs that just happen to be the most creative in the industry."

Over time, I've heard several thousand complex and involved definitions for "Creative" and the role it plays in campaigns, organizations and bottom lines. However, for me, the definition of Creative has always been simply nothing more than the visually exciting execution of a much larger strategy.

I'd like to revisit the fundamental ideas and questions that support the importance of what I like to call "good creative" for the recruitment industry.

What makes a creative powerhouse?

Short Answer: The people. The approach. Long Answer: Many tend to agree that developing "cool ads" or "flashy brochures" or cutting-edge "digital solutions" is the answer because they are "fun" or "different" or "creative." Pardon my countless quotation marks, but rather than look to creative executions that do a song and dance, wouldn't it be more effective to develop sophisticated strategies that are as unique as the individual challenges? Now don't get me wrong, creative executions that offer a song and dance make an impact and can be useful. However, when developing a creative approach that discusses a person's career path, a highly involved personal decision, does a song and dance do the trick?

Creative strategies define the creative execution — and as a result, develop award-winning materials that get the job done.

What should you look for in a Creative Team?

Performing a creative-to-creative comparison among various advertising agencies can be confusing, as both "traditional recruitment shops" and high-end digital marketing agencies (us) use identical verbiage, yet provide radically different services and deliverables for the same dollar investment. My advice? Well, since you asked...it's necessary to thoroughly understand the specific agency's structure and definition of the role creative plays within the recruiting arena. For example:

* A traditional creative definition: The actual creative ad, brochure, display booth, flyer, web site, etc. Essentially, it is any tangible creative product that is delivered to the client.

* A strategic creative definition: The tactical creative executions that support a larger marketing and hiring plan. Creative includes the actual marketing strategy that defines the communications plan that impacts the creative recommendations.

Far too often, companies pull together (or subcontract) top writers and art directors in an attempt to "out shoot" one another with bigger, better, flashier creative. The problem is that they fail to truly comprehend what the problem is in the first place. This is why we typically see "wow" creative during a new business pitch — but creative that wasn't developed to really solve a specific client challenge. As a result, there is limited value in the actual work.

At TMP, we collectively pool the strengths of dedicated creative, branding, employee communications, digital, research and media professionals together to build a true, strategic approach to a client's individual needs. This structure ensures that the creative developed is really, at its core level, strategically driven and focused and that the execution is a visual representation of a much larger, strategically driven plan. And most importantly, that the plan gets results.

"Great creative" can only be developed in conjunction with a clearly defined set of marketing objectives and strategies, because "great creative" is creative that gets results.

"Understand the problem and the solution will be staring you in the face."

Questions? Comments? Email me at steve.graham@tmp.com.

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