Proper Care and Feeding for Your Internal Creative Team
If you decide you want to tackle catalog creative development in house, my recommendation is to follow a few simple rules regarding your creative talent. As I said last week, developing catalogs for mail order is different than branding. The more your design team understands the roots of the direct marketing business the better for your business.
Rule #1: If you’re hiring a designer or a creative director, hire vertically. Find someone with a background in your industry. If you market clothing, then find someone who has designed mail order clothing catalogs, etc. There’s a lot of creative talent out there, but it’ll make your job much easier if the person already knows the particulars of your market.
I’ve seen some great designers who didn’t have a clue about direct marketing really muck up the process. When that happens, sales go down despite the relative “beauty” of their creative work. I cannot stress this rule enough.
Rule #2: The more your design team understands your products, and more importantly your numbers, the better job they can do. Have your analysis people provide them with any P&Ls, response data and merchandise reports (especially square inch reports) that can help them help you.
Rule #3: Involve your design team early on, and have them take an active role in product selection, pagination, copy, etc.
Rule #4: You may want to get your creative team involved in other areas, like printer and paper selection, plus selection and communication with of all your production vendors.
Rule #5: Keep your creative team in the know by immersing them in continuing education, both on the basics of design and the trends in direct marketing. There are many good books on direct and catalog marketing available. Plus, there are many great courses and conferences.
The bottom line is your design team needs to have a stake in the business at hand. Don’t just hand them your pagination and say, “Here, design this!” Give them a clue, and you’ll be surprised how efficiently the process flows, and the level of quality you get back (defined as the ability to create powerful catalogs that sell product first, while building brand image).
Any direct marketing creative people out there have an opinion? Please feel free to share!
Next week, I’ll tell you a creative lightning success and horror story. It will drive home the points I’ve made in these last two weeks.
Speak to you next week.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing and a professor of direct marketing at Miami International University of Art and Design. He can be reached at email@example.com.