Fostering Creativity

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Creativity is arguably the most important asset a company has, but also the most difficult one to harness.  The creative capital of a company is what sets it apart or keeps it ahead of the competition.  In the world of business, having a novel concept – whether it be a service, product or a combination of the two – is the difference between grasping the market, marketshare and the profits therein, or not.

Companies are quickly coming to the realization that in order to thrive, they must become more creative, which has lead to the creation of new roles within in organizations  (Innovation Manager, Chief Innovation Officer) or in some cases, entire business units to dedicated to this process.

In terms of the marketing industry, creativity can mean the difference between an average marketing solution and a wildly successful one.  While it can be difficult to measure, grasp and utilize creativity, there are ways to help find more creative solutions to a problem.

1. Reframe the Context – When we attempt to find a solution to a problem at hand, we often rely on our memory to pull from previous experiences that we’ve had in similar situations.  This comparative is what leads to similarities in solutions that an organization, and within it, an individual offers.

A solution to breaking out of this mindset, is to approach the problem from a different context.  Take a moment to think about how you approached the problem, and then attempt to describe it in an entirely different way.  This may require taking the standpoint of a different stakeholder, and can be helped along by asking someone who isn’t currently invested in finding a solution to the problem, such as a friend or a family member.

2. Free yourself from Failure – Outside of creating art for the sole purpose of art, it is difficult to think of a situation where the use of our creativity isn’t required for a right or wrong solution.  More aptly put:

 

 “Feedback generally promotes effort – because we want to impress the evaluator – but effort is insufficient for creativity.”

Peter Gray

If we are constantly concerned with creating something to a particular standard – external or otherwise – then we are forced to rely on internal understandings of what fits the bill.  Remove these barriers, and freedom reigns, promoting true creativityAn excellent example of this is the 80/20 rule, adopted by Google, where employees are allowed to dedicate up to 20% of their work time on personal projects they believe will benefit the company.

3. The thinker vs. the drinker – Concentrating solely on the problem at hand can hamper efforts of finding a novel solution.  It can be difficult to remove our thoughts from the progress that we’ve made on a problem, thus forcing our train of thought to continuously reach the same or similar conclusions. Sure, looking at a spreadsheet for hours on end, using the test-retest method, can help find what numbers are off or missing, but truly coming up with a creative solution to a problem may require removing yourself from that problem.  This could be anything from going to the gym, pacing your office, having a 15-minute breather with a colleague or yes, even having a drink.

My suggestion: Carry a notebook around with you, write down your inspirations and apply them to the problem at hand – if they are relevant or not!  Often times the best solutions come to us when we are least thinking about them.

4. Get Bored! Giving yourself some free time to do absolutely nothing seems near to impossible today.  From the moment we wake and check the AM emails we are constantly connected to technology that is designed to make our lives easier, but has in turn made us more accessible and therein inundated with the mundane.  When was the last time you didn’t check your phone, nonstop, while waiting for another to arrive for a lunch date?

We live in a culture obsessed with being busy, so freeing your mind from outside distractions can be difficult.  One way to achieve a blank state of mind is to practice meditation (Meditation: Small dose, big effect via PsychToday).  More often than not however, this point will come at the end of the night, as you lie in bed, right before sleep kicks in.  So don’t forget that notebook!

For a more robust reading of how to break of your creative slump, please read Psychology Today, Vol. 46, No.3, May/June 2013.

Fleeing_creativity_by_berthjan

To create a controversial ad or play it safe…that is the question!

In today’s society where social media and viral videos are at the top of the marketing game, advertising campaigns must be able to break through the noise, grab your attention and create a buzz! Every year, people around the world complain about ads, taking offence to the messages intended merely to sell products. On that same note, it is often times these ads that go viral, where millions of eyeballs are stimulated by the “shock advertising”.

Risk and Reward - Words on Dice

“Family first, product second.”

Liberty Bottleworks - Response to irate customer

There have been many examples of how companies can effectively use social media for customer service in recent weeks, most of which show how the use of social media can add a personal touch to a large corporation, and provide a positive experience for customers. That is until recently.

Emotion & Advertising

“Intellect and Emotion are partners who do not speak the same language. The intellect finds logic to justify what the emotions have decided. Win the hearts of the people, their minds will follow.”

– An Excerpt from The Wizard of Ads by Roy H. Williams

I first read The Wizard of Ads in 2008, and these were the words that stuck with me. Since then I have gained a real appreciation for advertising campaigns that create an emotional response.  Through creating an emotional response, regardless of what emotion it is,  you remove barriers that rationale places, and begin forming a relationship, a feeling, and a memory. How an advertisement makes you feel will be what you associate with that product or business.

Inbound Marketing VS Outbound Marketing – We Have A Winner

inbound-marketing-vs-outbound-marketingIt’s a crowded world out there and marketing is now about breaking through all the noise and being relevant. Sounds easy right? Not so much. Is your marketing strategy resulting in sympathy cards? Don’t worry – you are not alone. In fact, most small business owners in Saskatoon are facing the exact same pain points when it comes to marketing their product or service. In today’s society, people have to get away from “build it and they will come” and instead focus on “build it, market it and they will come.” There are two ways to market your business or organization and it’s a mighty clash between “Inbound Marketing” vs “Outbound Marketing”. 

Hire or Contract Your Marketing

You’re a small business owner or you operate a not-for-profit organization and its all hands on deck, going 100 miles an hour and you wear so many hats, you can’t even count. Sound like you? I think a lot can relate to this. One of the biggest problems with running your business is knowing when to start hiring or contracting out work…especially when it comes to marketing.

The majority of people think marketing is easy and it comes naturally…anybody can do it. It is often these people that fall flat on their face when their marketing efforts are turning into misery and their business can’t get off the ground or they can’t seem to find that extra little something to take it to the next level.