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Priceless: The Creative Process Part 1

15 May, 2002 By: Wes Phillips imageSource

Priceless: The Creative Process Part 1

is a charming notion to think, that the marketing professionals, who developed
the Master Card “Priceless” campaign (you know the one… “For everything
else there’s Master Card”), had a creative flash, like a bolt of lightening
late one night. This scenario could be true, but I wasn’t there. However I do
know, that countless hours of thoughtful analysis and discussion, took place
before that simple idea could occur. The next step was more hours of
fine-tuning. The final step in that process, was still more hours and a
substantial cash outlay, to “pull-off” the idea with precisely the correct
creative execution.


great advertising message is always the result of a tremendous amount of time
and emotional energy devoted to understanding all aspects of the marketing
function, and developing a clear definition of each objective.


“how to” articles about advertising, deal with the technical issues of
execution, rather than the thought process, which must be completed before the
technical work can be started. Research and development are the hard part, for
this reason it is so important, that this column is devoted to a better
understanding of this process. Next month’s column will address one of the fun
parts of the advertising process, by outlining creative execution guidelines.



previous articles, you were encouraged to determine who your prospects are,
where they are, and what they look for from your company and from the
competition. Now you are being asked to divide your prospects into
“mind-set” categories.


our office received calls from two different business acquaintances, each
looking for new document imaging equipment. One company said they wanted
specific features and connectability for a print/copy volume, of about 12,000
per month. All they wanted was the best deal, which was defined as the lowest
price with all of the desired features, because they had so little trouble with
their existing copier (which they had owned for four years). This company did
not care about service, parts or response time. In fact, they were not even
interested in a service contract.


other company also had an existing copier and was doing a print/copy volume of
22,000 per month. They indicated that they were not getting the service they
needed, because response time was never less then eight hours. Parts had to be
ordered and there were too many service callback situations. In addition, they
had questions about color copying and these questions had gone unanswered. Their
words were, “We will pay whatever it takes to get real answers and real


these two very different emotional, intellectual and business approaches to the
same product; sometimes the contrast in buyer’s perceptions is not as
dramatic. Yet, in any case, those contrasts are critically important in the
design of an advertising message.


prospect base is made up of several categories of people, with individual ideas
of what is important. Those different perceptions may be based upon a subtle
tangible or intangible difference in the product’s advertising and marketing.
This concept becomes clear when you examine, for example beer advertising geared
towards certain groups of people.


beer companies position themselves as the beer that “hard-working blue-collar
people” will drink after work. Others position themselves as the beer that
“active young adults” will drink on the weekend. While the rest portray
themselves as the beer that “sophisticated people” will drink in social


before you look into a specific creative approach, you must also determine that
what you sell and how you sell it, is consistent with the desires of the
specific target group you have chosen.



few years ago, one of our clients was an ultra-conservative yet highly
profitable and financially strong bank. As our firm began developing the
marketing program, it became clear that we could bring them thousands of new
accounts. But it was also clear that the new prospects needed to have a very
specifically defined set of expectations. The bank simply was unable (and
unwilling) to do business with prospects, unless they shared the same
intellectual and emotional values of the bank.


firm also has a specific way of doing business. Even if this is not by design in
all cases, it is not by accident either. The vendors you chose, your personnel,
how your customer service is operated, your compensation plans—all reflect
certain beliefs and values you have found to be successful for your business.


is important to recognize that the same beliefs that guide you in sales, service
and administration, must also guide you in targeting appropriate prospects and
in developing the messages you communicate in your advertising. Regardless of
its nature, the message you give to your public must be consistent with the way
you do business on a daily basis.



examine the case of the two business acquaintances looking for new document
imaging equipment. The first one would be highly receptive to advertising, which
convinced them that the equipment technology was, first and foremost, the lowest
price, and secondly, would provide the same reliability experienced with the
previous equipment.


even assuming that new features and increased capabilities were the only reasons
my associate had for buying new equipment, he would be forced to compare the
cost/benefit of each feature. (He wants a low price, but a low price for what?)
Then, because of his price/deal nature, he will probably interview three or more
dealers, each of whom must be prepared to devote a significant amount of time to
the negotiation process.


he will probably buy from the dealer and salesperson that conveys an
understanding of this particular thought process, and gives him the perception
“he is getting the best deal.” The dealer who gets that order, will be the
dealer who has devoted time and energy to the kind of sales training, marketing
programs, and compensation programs, that allow its salespeople to successfully
handle this individual’s price/deal/negotiation mentality.


way my second acquaintance thinks and works, creates a very different set of
circumstances. Unlike the first prospect, this individual does not want to spend
much time finding and acquiring document-imaging technology. He is concerned
mostly with service, because of his previous bad experience, and is tempted to
call a manufacturer’s branch (rather than a dealer), because he perceives
dealers in a negative light and feels that a manufacturer will deal with him in
a more professional manner. The advertising approach this second buyer will
respond to is a straightforward understanding of his concerns about minimizing


buyer likes lots of process, numbers and angles, so he will have several ways to
negotiate. The other buyer makes judgments based on

and intangible factors of perceived professionalism, customer commitment, and a
simple “clean” transaction.


are the issues that must be addressed before your advertising message is


Who do you sell to and how do you sell it? Stated another way, what does a
customer get when they buys from your company?


What is the emotional and intellectual profile of your prospect? How do they
think and operate? 


Does your existing marketing system meet your business and financial objectives?


your objectives are not being met, be willing to make adjustments. Adjustments
may be necessary in your marketing strategy, in your advertising approach or
even in your product.


important, have internal integrity and consistency. First, define the specific
subcategories of your prospect base. Then make certain, that the emotional and
business priorities each group exhibits is consistent with the product you sell
and your way of selling. Then you will be in a position to specifically and
aggressively pursue your prospects with stronger, more creative advertising
message. When this occurs, you will have powerfully advanced your dealership’s
leadership position and that achievement is---Priceless!

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