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How to use creative concepts to become the go-to for potential clients

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I’m giddy about today’s message. That’s because it’s something I had to learn the hard way… 7 years into my career.

But once I learned how to leverage it (something I’m still learning tbh), I saw my marketing’s organic reach blow up.

(No, I don’t mean “blew up” like how Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you” is about to slam into all of us like a yuletide tsunami.)

I mean my potential clients:

  • Remembered who I was, even months after they’d last seen my site
  • Paid me more for the same work
  • Started referring me to other people more frequently than before

Yet as important as creative hooks are, there are tragically few resources on what they are, let alone how to develop one.

(I learned this the hard way, as a senior writer for a major real estate tech company. My manager asked me to put together a brief with three creative concepts. What I turned in was… not right.)

But thanks to her patience, and the tutoring of an old-school California surfing industry graphic designer, I learned enough to be dangerous.

That helped me land an agency senior copywriter gig where I got to hone these skills even more.

Now I’m going to give you a primer you can start using today to be more memorable to your prospective clients.

The Most Memorable, High-performing Campaigns of All Time Have a Central “Hook” or Creative Concept

The best marketing goes far beyond its ad spend. It’s something people talk about at the water cooler, or – if you’re under 30 – Slack.

You may remember the following campaigns through the sheer strength of their central concepts:

The Creative Concept Is the Core Part of Any Great Marketing Campaign

It’s like the Force: binding us, flowing through us, yet difficult to pin down or define.

Dress up in costume…When Your Marketing Concept Is Strong, It Can Be Enough to Inspire a Galaxy of Nerds to Line up Around the Block…

Speak in Kashyyyk…

Name their children after you…

And inspire new religions in Australia…

…It’s powerful stuff. Best of all, it works for your solopreneur brand, too.

It’s like the “Big Idea” That Makes a Marketing Campaign Interesting or Memorable

Ideally, your audience can talk about your campaign with just the concept.

“Hey, did you see that Starburst ad with the ‘Berries and Cream’ guy?”

“You’ve read Ogilvy’s Volkswagen ad, right?”

“Did you see that new Agora promo about the diabetic eating syrupy waffles?”

Okay, I’ve got more than 2 million reasons not to use that last one…

You want your concept to be something your audience can talk about on their own, when you’re not there. A big ideavirus.

So How Do You Come up with a Memorable Concept? Some Quick Tips:

  1. Start with the problem you’re trying to solve, who needs to solve it, and what you want your audience to do.
  2. Brainstorm ideas and challenge them – are they appropriate for the audience? Are they fresh? Could the same concept be used across an entire campaign? (Multiple campaigns?) Does it create an emotional response?
  3. Create visual representations of the concept in action. How would this concept be present on your website? Marketing materials? What visuals best represent it?

Note That a Concept Is NOT Colors, Fonts, or Messages

But the colors, fonts, messages, and other design elements should support the “big idea” of your creative concept.

With a Strong Creative Concept, Your Brand Identity Goes from “Oh They’re Just Another Copywriter/Coach/Consultant Blah Blah” to “hey I Know Who They Are!” Even Months Later

And that means you’ll be able to work with premium clients, charge premium rates, and grow your business faster.

Top-secret Tip: Nearly All of the Copywriters and Consultants I’ve Seen Who Hit $200k/Year Have a Solid Creative Concept at the Core of Their Brand

I’ve seen this fairly consistently. Yeah, there’s that random dark horse that shows up to sell a course after hitting $1M/year.

But for client-facing service providers, the importance of a solid brand concept can’t be overstated. It’s the difference between getting stuck at $100k and scaling far beyond.

See for yourself: Go take a look at some of the most successful copywriters/small business owners you know and try to find their creative concept. Ask yourself,

  1. “What’s the one-sentence concept their brand is built around?”
  2. “How does their copy support or tie into their creative concept?”
  3. “How do their visuals support their creative concept?”
  4. “How can I apply what I’m learning to my own marketing/branding work?”

Which coach, copywriter, or consult do you know that has an awesome creative concept at the core of its brand? Reply and let me know.

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