Author: Aurora Tapp
Injecting the Creativity into your Creative Strategy
A good creative strategy is essential to set yourself apart from other brands. Marketing campaigns bombard consumers daily. We’ve become pretty good at tuning them out. But some of them stick. Some capture our attention because they’re particularly beautiful, funny, or thoughtful. They’re different.
An uncreative marketing strategy isn’t much of a strategy at all.
I still remember the U by Kotex campaign that came out when we still watched TV and “Netflix and chill” had no significance. For those who don’t, the ads ridiculed regular tampon commercials. They were honest, hilarious, and unique. They also went on to successfully sell the same product for about double the price.
They were incredibly creative ads because they thought completely outside the box.
But creativity doesn’t have to be this elusive concept. We’re not Jackson Pollock throwing material at a board for others to derive meaning from. Marketers’ creative tasks are actually easier because they’re guided.
So you can breathe.
Creative is applying that same outside-the-box thinking to solve a problem. Specifically, your audience’s problems. Innovative thinking will give you a competitive edge.
Easier said than done, right?
How do we “be creative?”
It’s not a simple thing – even professional artists struggle to come up with new ideas. Except maybe Stephen King.
Creativity is the productive use of imagination, which in itself is a faculty of the mind. There’s no secret formula to unlocking creative potential because all minds function differently.
And thank goodness, because I like to believe that I think differently than a lot of the politicians, internet trolls, and serial killers out there.
Look at your own marketing team. SEO analyst is likely to approach a problem at a different angle than a graphic designer. The creative process is different for everyone, and everyone has a different role in executing a creative strategy.
Here are a few approaches:
Mind and Road Mapping
Copy and content writers will be familiar with this strategy. Creating webs of ideas that stem from your goal is an effective type of brainstorming. It helps and points out what areas are lacking in.
Write down every little thing that comes to you, even when you’re not at work.
I know squiggling all over a piece of paper may seem stupid at first, but it helps.
A great and simple technique for the beginning stages is the SWOT Analysis. Identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats will help you understand your business and where it stands.
Turns out, there’s a ton of mind mapping software out there. Here are three that I thought looked pretty great:
This is a Google extension, and compatible with Google Drive. It’s built for collaboration, with comments, chat, and the ability to view revision history. Great for team brainstorming.
This is another good one for teams. It’s completely web-based and chat-enabled, making sharing, accessibility, and communication easy. Especially if you work with freelancers. It also has a presentation tool for meetings.
Rated 4.2 / 5 by G2Crowd, this is an especially great mapping tool for marketers. The software has storyboarding tools, allows social media posting, and calculates project costs. It’s also compatible with Google Drive, so your whole team can access it.
All of these tools are free, with upgraded plans starting at about five dollars a month.
This is pretty self-explanatory. Marketing inspiration can be found everywhere. For more visual thinkers, creating a mood board or using Pinterest to compile parts of an idea is useful. I keep my own mood board on Pinterest, where I go when I need fresh ideas for my own creative strategy.
Another strategy is keeping a swipe file. Please do not infer that this means a file of things to swipe! A swipe file is a compilation of marketing campaigns, designs, illustrations, articles, etc., that you find particularly awesome. For me, this takes the form of a bookmark folder on my browser. When I come across a well-written blog or captivating headline, I put it in the swipe file. It may come as inspiration later when I’m staring at a blank Google Doc with an 8 am deadline.
If you’re willing to put in the extra work, there are some great resources out there. Here’s a link to some of the best TED Talks on the subject.
I also highly recommend Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. But there are a plethora of books on creativity.
Just be careful when inspiring yourself not to lose your authenticity. That’s the life and blood of creativity!
Staying up-to-date in your industry may not just spark your creativity, but will ensure that what you generate isn’t stale. It’s as easy as checking your LinkedIn and following a few of your favourite blogs. I also love Medium for providing daily articles with fresh industry insights.
Coming up with something great only to find out someone already did definitely sucks. But it’s better than putting a lot of work into something unoriginal. Or even worse, getting accused of stealing an idea.
Thinking about current trends and events can be helpful too. For example, as a content creator, I find that Googling national holidays can generate ideas year-round.
Keep an open mind and try not to let yourself get stuck.
When I tried coming up with a company name, I wrote down a ton of ideas that are way too embarrassing to share. But there were a few that I kind of liked. Kind of liking something means it’s not what you should name your company. But I couldn’t get them out of my head. I kept trying to justify them. A part of this was because I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to come up with something better.
Thankfully, I waited.
Studies show that projects that were rushed into demonstrate low levels of originality. This is not to say you should procrastinate, but neither Rome nor a quality creative strategy was built in a day.
Wait, take a walk, try a different perspective.
What you can do as a Marketing Manager
Break up the routine
If your team is trudging through their day, mix up the schedule a little. Breathe a little life into their work minds. Offer events and other team building exercises. Take them out for lunch to a new restaurant. They’ll think about work in different ways, and approach challenges at new angles. Exactly what you need in your creative strategy!
Listen to everyone
Most of the best ideas come from collaboration. Someone presents a challenge, another the solution. Someone comes up with a great idea, and another layers something atop it. Use the resources and skills in your office. When everyone feels like a contributing part of the creative strategy, the result is logical and consistent.
Hold brainstorming meetings with the whole team. Ask questions that make them think about things differently. Figure out what you as a team are curious about, and what kind of alternative solutions you can find. You never know when that quiet analyst might speak up with something brilliant.
Change the Environment
Is your office a little stifling? Studies show that changes in the environment can boost creativity. True, we can’t be going for little strolls throughout the eight hour day. But if there’s little visual appeal in the office, or it hasn’t been decluttered in a long time, why not change that? Clearing the air can clear the mind. Add a little colour. Personally, a few plants make me feel vibrant and excited to create.
You can also consider bringing in some kind of coach to reinvigorate your staff. A creativity expert can bring new approaches and energy into the office.
Oh, by the way, studies also showed that coffee boosts creativity. You’re welcome.
Since everyone thinks differently, how can you pin down the best strategy once the creative juices have been flowing?
First, take all ideas into consideration. Yes, even the ones that you’re not super keen on. You never know. People need to be comfortable pitching their ideas.
But you do need to refine. Consider all ways of thinking and all the ways that the strategy can be interpreted. Be aware of cultural sensitivities and timeliness. Keep narrowing down until your team has found that winning strategy, and execute.
Make sure everyone is happy and on the same page. If the creative strategy excites everyone, the result will be much better. Consistency is essential to marketing.
Creativity can be a hard thing to grasp. It applies to so many disciplines, from the obvious like writing, design, etc., to business and SEO. Creativity is something that everyone has, like a muscle. Some people are more in touch with theirs than others. It needs to be stretched and exercised every day in new and different ways. But shocking results are possible for everyone.
Article originally posted on contentmint.ca