Thursday, March 29, 2012

Creative Inspiration for The Hunger Games

Last weekend, the film The Hunger Games generated revenues of $155 million; a new record for a film which is not a sequel.  It places third for opening weekends overall,  behind last year’s “Harry Potter” finale and “The Dark Knight.”

Suzanne Collins, the author of the The Hunger Games, says that her inspiration came from channel surfing on television. The competition between contestants on a reality show and footage of the invasion of Iraq "began to blur in this very unsettling way" to form the main idea for the book. Throw in the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur and Roman gladiatorial games and you have a recipe for a powerful series of books and movies.

This is a perfect formula for stimulating creativity. By combining a variety of experiences in a new way, something magic can happen.

What inspires your creativity?

The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printers, direct marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Multi-Channel Step by Step

Double Thick Impact Card by Convertible Solutions
Multi-channel marketing is one of the hottest topics in the printing industry. Marketers and printers have discovered that combining direct mail with electronic media produces better results than either do individually. Smart printers are leveraging this knowledge to drive printing sales and promote their marketing services departments.

A successful multi-channel campaign can be conducted in many ways. This posts outlines some of the steps that can be used to introduce a new product or concept.

1.  Seed Interest - Weeks or months before the introduction, start including links to articles that would be interesting to prospects in your social media feeds. This works particularly well in Twitter where the interesting articles are likely to be posted originally by potential prospects. Retweeting those posts can help you build a relationship with those prospects long before the product announcement.

2. Perfect Your Website - When you are ready to launch, make sure that your website is attractive, current and the product is easy to find and well explained. The prospect who visits your website needs to be persuaded to purchase and has to know how to purchase your product.

3.  Create a Compelling Mail Piece - Direct mail is one of the least filtered ways to reach your prospects. You need to create something that has visual and tactile impact so your customer stops and examines it as soon as they touch it. Convertible Solution’s Double Thick Impact Cards can help provide the tactile impact. Once the prospect is compelled to look at the piece, the graphics and the offer have to compel action.

4. Personalized Landing Pages - Include personalized URLs on your mailing that link to personalized landing pages. For example,* would link to a page that welcomes me by name, explains the offer concisely and allows me to respond to the offer by simply checking a box. The personalized landing pages simplify the response process for the prospect and provide tracking information to the marketer.

5. Mobile Website - Personalized QR codes can be included on the mailing that take people directly to their landing page when they scan the code with their smart phone or tablet. Non-personalized QR codes can be included on trade show signs, brochures and point-of-sale materials. Make sure that QR codes always direct people to a site that is designed to present the information clearly on a mobile screen.

6. Triggered Email - The software that creates the personalized URLs can also send emails based upon how people have responded.  A thank you email should be send to anyone who visits the site and responds to the offer and reminder emails can be sent at intervals to those who have not yet responded. The graphics and message in these triggered emails should stimulate the prospect’s memory of the original mailing.

7. Press Release - At the time of the launch, send a well drafted press release to the editors of the publications that serve your industry and post the release on a news service like PR Web or PR Wire. Be sure to also post it in the news section of your own web site. The release should include links to the product on your web site.

8. Social Media Sharing - Post links to the news story on your web site to your social media feeds. Be sure to express your appreciation to any followers who retweet or share your news and join in on the conversation. If anyone blogs about your product or creates any other original content about it, be sure to include links to those posts as well.

These are a few steps that can be used in the creation of a multi-channel marketing campaign. If you include video, pay per click, television or radio, make sure those messages also tie in with your print and web approach.

Have you completed a multi-channel campaign?  How did it go?

Double Thick Impact Card with Portal by Convertible Solutions

 *This link is no longer attached to a personalized landing page.

The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printers, direct marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Leaping the Great Firewall

People engage their creativity for many reasons. At this year’s True/False film festival in Columbia, Missouri, I was very impressed by two films documenting the courage of two Chinese bloggers and an artist who use their creativity to challenge the censorship of the Chinese government.

Zola is a Chinese citizen blogger. Image from
The first was a secret screening so I won’t reveal the name of the film. It focuses on Zhou Shuguang who blogs as Zola and Zhang Shihe who blogs as Tiger Temple. Zhou is from Hunan province and since 2004 has been writing a blog documenting sensitive issues in China, including freedom of speech and government censorship of the media. Beijing based Zhang is a former marketing executive who traverses China on a bicycle to highlight those who have been left behind by the growing market economy and ignored by the Chinese government. Both bloggers risk their life daily trying to bring transparency to a closed society.

Tiger Temple traverses China by bicycle to document injustice. Image from his blog.

BBC image of Ai WeiWei at his Sunflower Seed exhibit at the Tate.
Alison Klayman’s Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry documents one of China’s more famous and controversial international artists. 

Ai WeiWei collaborated on the design of the Beijing National Stadium and is recognized by the art community worldwide for creating conceptual art by altering readymade objects. As a political activist, he has been openly critical of government corruption and cover ups including the scandal following the collapse of poorly constructed schools in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Ai WeiWei’s international fame has provided a broad international audience for his ideas, but it did not protect him from an April 2011 arrest by the Chinese authorities. Released after 2 months of being held without charges, he was accused of tax evasion. His legal battles with the Chinese government are not over and it will be interesting to see how Klayman’s film is received in China.

While I blog about creativity weekly, the greatest potential impact to me and most of my audience is a gain or loss of readership or market share. It is inspiring to learn about those willing to put their lives on the line for journalistic and artistic freedom.

What motivates your creativity?

Director Allison Klayman (center) and friends. Tweeted from the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Good Enough or Great Enough?

When I meet creative professionals, particularly those who have declining revenues, I often hear about the declining tastes of the American consumer. The premise is that consumers no longer care about “professional quality” and are content with “good enough.”  Interestingly, at the same conferences, I usually meet other artists who are passionate about their unique creative vision and excited about the success they are experiencing.

I do not believe that the digital age has diminished the quality expectations of the general public. Instead, DSLR cameras, desktop design tools, desktop video editing and a plethora of design blogs have increased the quality of the work that people can do for themselves. As their own capabilities have increased, so have their quality expectations on those occasions when they choose to hire a professional.

Your audience is not looking for “good enough.”  They are looking for a difference between what they can produce and what you provide that is “great enough” to justify the price. 

David and Whitney Scott have a creative vision that can transform their morning coffee into a work of art!

The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printers, direct marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

50 Great Creativity Blogs

I often write about the importance of staying informed to inspire your creativity. This week I have added a widget to display my favorite photography, printing and design blogs. If you don’t want to set up your own RSS reader, you can simply come here frequently to link to some of the best content on the web.

The blog listing is located on the right side of The Creativity Paradox below the blog archive. Each blog and the most recent headline are displayed with the most recently updated at the top.

If you enjoy reading blogs, you might also be interested in:

The Blogsphere and Twitterverse 

Flipboard Fanatic 

The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printers, direct marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.