The collaborative process of getting the marketing team together to bring creative content, positioning or analysis to reality is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the marketing function. Group creativity can be exhilarating and fun for everyone. Unfortunately, a nasty trend is developing in the process of marketing creativity; and it is brought on by marketing’s nemesis GOOGLE and the age of easy information access. Compound this with the “youth of today” (I sound old I know it) and the propensity to grab a mobile device at the slightest excuse. It is simply too easy to Google stuff that you really need to put your mind to work on. What has happened to true attempts to create something really different? Come up with a name for a product: Google other names from other companies. Come up with a collateral design: Google images of other brochure layouts. Come up with an ad campaign: Google other ad campaigns, research which ones were quantitatively successful, use the same formula and simply tweak the specifics. One more “mysterious spokesperson coming out of retirement to speak on” insurances, hamburgers or whatever is really over the top.
Sitting in a meeting challenging 20’somethings to come up with a creative idea that does not exist elsewhere is a depressing proposition. I understand the difficulty, believe me, but to NOT even have a single attempt illustrates a serious problem in our business environment. Sure the national creative agencies are still pumping out unique stuff and Apple is still on the creative edge, but the vast majority of medium sized businesses that make up the core of our business leadership do not have the capital or time to leverage the NYC resources. The need is for everyone to accept the requirement of continuous, consistent ATTEMPTS at differentiation; at producing a memorable market position that sticks; at delivering to customers something they have not seen before. The real homerun successes lay in the whitespace that is creative uniqueness. It’s always been this way and it always will.
Try some easy exercises to get your next marketing meeting started and reap the benefits of greater creativity and more impactful results:
1. Set an accepting tone to the meeting. Ensure each person knows that all ideas are creative ideas and that one idea will generate another and then another. If anyone feels their ideas won’t be good enough, remind them that their idea may be the one that triggers the great idea; that alone is an achievement. Use the analogy of hockey: the guy who passes the puck to the guy that scores is equally rewarded.
2. Frame the subject with things to think about. Don’t just dive into the request for the killer idea; set thestage with data and customer descriptions. This will get the environment rich with thoughts. Out of that foundation something will come.
3. Do something totally different. The scientific data is crystal clear on this: creativity emerges from TRANSITIONS between activities that are often totally unrelated. I am all in favor of pin pong!