Want Fries With That Creative?

by Erik Doescher

 

I’m in an all out war with fast food. And I’m not sure I’m winning.

When it’s been a long day and my wife and I are too tired to cook, or when we’ve been out all day and the kids get hungry, it’s way too easy to drive through any one of the five fast food restaurants within a quarter mile of our house and pick up a burger, fries, burrito, roast beef sandwich or taco. Or all of the above.

Most of the time, it boils down to just being busy. We stop and grab fast food because we’ve got too much other stuff going on. And this “busy” creates the need for a shortcut. And the shortcut in this case (i.e., fast food) allows us to fill our bellies quickly and keep on moving.

But this shortcut also comes with a price. All I need to do is look down to see where the burger and fries have set up shop.

Sadly, getting rid of the unwanted weight caused by fast food is a lot harder than putting it on. Putting it on is the easy part. Trying to take it back off stinks. In fact, every day I have to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to hit the elliptical I kick myself for all of the junk I ate that’s creating the need to wake up at 5:30 a.m. and hit the elliptical. The food tasted good, but not that good.

Coming up with creative when we’re busy can be a lot like this.

We’ve got a million things going on, and we’ve still got to get that [insert piece you’re working on here] out the door. So we spend five seconds brainstorming a headline, and use the first thing that pops in our heads. We then scribble out copy as quickly as we can, blast it off to our designer, and then move on to the next project. The creative version of picking up a burger and fries has just been executed.

Unfortunately, doing this comes with a price in the same way that fast food comes with a price to our midsections: the piece doesn’t grab the attention we’re for, or doesn’t drive the numbers we were looking for, or is less effective than we thought it would be. Or all of the above.

My brother Ian has written about our brainstorming process before, but I want to emphasize one of the “rules” of our process that keeps us from succumbing to the allure of creative fast food.

When we start, we may come up with what we all perceive to be a great product name, or headline, or offer. We might even think we’re not going to think of anything better. And we might be right.

But here’s the trick: we force ourselves to keep going, to keep coming up with idea after idea after idea. Because at the end of the day, that first idea we came up with may still be the best one on our whiteboard…but it might just be the worst. Most of the time, it falls somewhere in the middle.

The point is to keep pushing ourselves to get the results we really want. And then to push again and again and again.

Now back to my elliptical…

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