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The Cul-de-sac of Creativity
By: Jerry Northup
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I’ve often said that finding out what a client doesn’t want is just as important as finding out what they do. From time to time, you will find yourself “running around in circles,” but that doesn’t mean that the project isn’t going anywhere. It may not always be apparent, but the truth is, you’re making progress even if you think you’re not.

How do you take your ideas to the edge without going over it? I’d like to say that everyone involved in the creative process is on the same team, but really, that’s not true. Each stakeholder in the process has a different idea on how to get there and a different agenda.
  • Just because you build it doesn’t mean “they” will come. I’ve seen the most brilliant campaigns shot down by the most simple of minds. The beauty is always in the eyes of the buyer, but as copywriters, we have an obligation to give our very best thinking to any creative challenge. And, with all due respect, that thinking must be done on the front end. Usually, that’s the writer starting from scratch, then running the idea past a graphic designer who puts the words and pictures together. If you’re a writer and this is not something you do on a routine basis, you are most certainly NOT doing it right.
  • How to know when “no” really does mean “No!” Sometimes, “no” really means “maybe” or even “yes” under certain circumstances. Perhaps an idea needs to be fleshed out a little bit more or given a different spin. The right image can make a headline just explode in power. But, be aware of this caveat: Average or even poor copy can be saved by a great picture, but a poor image or lousy font will destroy great or even brilliant copy without exception.
  • The real teamwork happens between the writer and designer. The give and take that goes on in the creation of an idea is probably the most enjoyable part of being a writer. There is a certain high that you get when a concept really gets off the ground and makes a visible and immediate impact. That reaction is what you should shoot for in everything you write.
Every copywriter knows what it’s like to go ‘round and ‘round with the client, but as long as you’re nearing the target with each revolution, you’re in the right orbit.

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About the Author
Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Gerald Northup has written professionally in the fields of advertising, marketing, social media, and corporate communications since the early ’90s. For a look at his blog posts and social media articles, as well as TV, radio, print, and website samples from his online portfolio, visit gnorthup1979.wix.com/44words.

Jerry is also a talented guitarist, an avid tennis player, and a lifelong student of linguistics.

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