Craig Hannabus
Craig Hannabus

The ‘rules’ of great creative execution

by Craig Hannabus. Correctly framing your marketing messages can lead to a 300% increase in conversion rates.

by Craig Hannabus. I’ve spent the last few months working on several NGO marketing strategies. It’s been absolutely fascinating, mostly because media budgets in that space are incredibly small so compelling creative becomes exceedingly essential. We all know that creative plays a pivotal role in any marketing effort. Still, the insights that I’ve come across in the NGO space illustrate that our creative concepts and structures in other areas are still in their infancy. In this ‘new normal’ world, it is even more important to put resonant creative in front of the consumer.

There is a fascinating whitepaper that you can read here, but if 52 pages of research is too much, I’ve summarised the findings and adapted them for the retail space, specifically focusing on digital channels.

Creative matters more than you know

Correctly framing your marketing messages can lead to a 300% increase in conversion rates. I found this insight to be gobsmacking. Setting up audiences are critical, and human insights should drive big ideas, but what this insight alludes to is the fact that creative structure (how creative actually leads the eye and plays in the space of colour theory), can make or break your conversion rate.

People need to see themselves

The research shows that if the consumer sees ads featuring relatable models, conversion rates can increase by 50%. Firstly, this means that you need to understand your target audience in the most fundamental way. You may be selling toothpaste, but if your ad models are dressed in the latest designer fashions, you’re going to lose your audience. It also casts doubt on the effectiveness of ads featuring overly attractive individuals. Secondly, and more technically speaking, we need to make sure that we’re actually targeting the right individuals. In other words, our marketing personas and our digital media audiences need to overlap.

Don’t overwhelm

Let’s say you’re running a promotion across a category of items. The temptation is to try and do a mass burst of various products or worse still, cram as many of the products as possible onto a single banner. Despite all its cleverness, the human brain tends towards single subject processing. It means that you’re really only able to focus on (and comprehend properly), one thing at a time. Advertise with your flagship product only, and you’re bound to see improvements in conversion.

A picture is worth a thousand words

It’s a throwaway saying that we use to describe the immediate impact of a visual over the comparatively more laborious task of reading a bunch of copy. I think there’s a powerful insight in that saying though. How is the audience’s eye being led through the imagery? Top-to-bottom? Left-to-right? How are you positioning your elements, your copy? Are you unpacking your message in the form of a narrative, or are you simply bombarding the consumer’s eye, giving them the equivalent of a creative smack?

I was sitting with our creative director the other day looking at how we construct a key visual to deliver maximum impact. We decided that our image would convey a story, albeit with no context, and the final piece of copy on the page would create the context. It would be a eureka moment, a surprise to the viewer, and make a far stronger emotional connection.

There you have it. Creating good marketing collateral is more than just slapping some pretty copy on to brand CI; it is a strategic endeavour which has far-reaching consequences if not done properly. Good creative teams have a feel for it, but for the rest of us, these are the guidelines we can follow.


Craig Hannabus is strategy director at Rogerwilco. He has spent 11 years in the digital marketing industry. During his career, he’s gained exposure as a community manager, content writer, developer, and UX strategist, before embracing a new role in business strategy. Craig has worked on blue-chip brands including the likes of Standard Bank, Nedbank, General Motors, Nestle, Reckitt Benckiser and Caxton, to name a few.


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