Any small business owner quickly realizes that there are a myriad of things that go into achieving professional success. Sure, being a good graphic designer, or accountant, or carpenter, or (fill in the blank) is crucial. But equally so, in my opinion, is being a good communicator.
And that doesn’t simply mean being a good talker, schmoozer or salesperson. It means being a good listener, a skill that appears increasingly hard to come by in this age of instant everything. It takes patience, focus and persistence to truly listen — to get to the heart and soul of what the customer is trying to say. What do they need to communicate? Why do they need to say it? To whom? What is most relevant in the message? Why should anyone care?
I consider the answers to these types of questions more important than the graphics, fonts or content when I create an advertising campaign or marketing collateral. Information feeds relevance. It’s the “why‘s, where’s and how’s” that ultimately lead me down the path to my finest creativity.
Have I ever developed creative work without them? Yes, certainly. But, I have always had an easier road to the creative solution, believed in it more and, ultimately, been more successful by asking, researching, challenging and digging.
Maybe that’s rare in a creative guy, especially an art director at heart. There is so much design around us, advertising in front of us and overwhelming media in our face that appears purely shallow. When I sense that kind of vapidness, I sometimes get depressed about the field of communications. I feel as if I’m engaged in a constant, lonely uphill battle to create meaningful communications that can make a difference.
Thankfully, though, all is takes is one really great marketing piece to lift my spirits. One really creative commercial on TV, one engaging print or radio ad, one crisp and memorable logo…. There is still greatness around us. And it often springs from simply taking the time and effort to get to the true heart of the matter.
Good luck and good listening,