Our monthly book club is a fun way to stop, breath, and enjoy each other's company. We also get in some quality peer learning. Our book choice for the month of May was Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide To Creating Great Ads by Luke Sullivan. Sullivan draws on a depth of knowledge gathered over nearly two decades of experience in the industry and a dictionary full of wise words from advertising legends and contemporaries alike. A few of the chapters (television and radio) seem a little out of place in an interactive agency, but ultimately every chapter of the book had some valuable thoughts on the creative process.
From a business perspective, Hey Whipple is definitely worth reading; however, I'd like to touch upon the broader value of the book -- learning how to think creatively.
Your ability to give good feedback can help make or break a project. If you follow these simple rules your projects will go quicker, run smoother and turn out better.
Listen carefully, and ask questions.
The first step to providing good feedback is understanding the rationale behind the decisions that were made. "I don't like the red." isn't good feedback. It's a personal preference disguised as feedback. Focus on giving feedback that is non-opinionated and provides an opportunity for the person that created the work to provide context. A question like, "This color isn't in our brand standards. What's the thinking behind using this particular red?", will help you understand the reason the decisions were made so your input will be more informed and valuable.
Start with the nice.
Try to accentuate the positive in the first part of your communication. If you always go straight into critiques/revisions then the person you're working with will adopt a defensive stance. The result will be a combative conversation in which you'll be attacking and they'll be defending. You're on the same team and should act accordingly.
Have you ever wondered why sporks never made it into sophisticated culture? In my opinion, they really do make for a better tool than using both a fork and a spoon. So why haven't they grabbed more than the cheap and efficient market? I think sporks need to tell a different story.
If you're able to get the attention of a potential customer, it's important to make sure their attention isn't wasted. You have to make the most of that initial conversation (whether that dialogue takes place over the web, through an ad or on a call).
It's the natural instinct of a consumer to be a skeptic. They start asking questions about your product right away -- questions aimed at determining if what you have is something they need/want and if it will provide a payoff in the form of some benefit (either emotionally or rationally). They may ask the person next to them if they've heard of your brand, they may go to google to research what people are saying, and ever increasingly they're starting to hit up twitter to see what others are saying.
I had a chance to have dinner with my dad last night. We're both nerdy film fans so the conversation naturally turned towards the new Star Trek film and, of course, Star Wars. (Mainly because Star Wars is better.) In 1977 My dad went to go see Star Wars. Actually, what he went to see was A Bridge Too far. What he ended up seeing was Star Wars.