Creativity — today’s marketing edge
By Mike Wicks | Mar 19, 2012
If your brainstorming directive is nothing more than ‘think outside the box,’ take a look at these 20 tips to really get the creative juices flowing.Scanning my bookshelves recently in search of inspiration, I came across The Source of Success by Peter Georgescu and David Dorsey. Published in 2005, this book says the workhorse of the 21st century will be creativity, and that management must create the right environment within companies to discover breakthrough ideas.
As I flipped through the pages, I recalled that the authors’ argument was that we have entered a surplus economy — a world where supply exceeds demand. Georgescu and Dorsey say that today’s business environment is such that companies need to differentiate their brand from their competitors, and that if creativity doesn’t drive strategic visions, then companies will be forced to compete on price, which would result in lower profit margins.
Since 2005, we’ve been faced with almost unprecedented tough times, so these words from the recent past carry special significance. Perhaps creativity shouldn’t be considered a soft skill any longer, but instead a critical piece of the current marketing zeitgeist.
So, how can you be more creative in your business life? The following 20 tips combine serious strategies with fun ideas to spice up your business and allow you to introduce creativity at every level.
2. Read more — and be adventurous. I like to read business books, and as a result I continually adapt ideas I read about and use them in my business. But this may not be enough to unleash your most creative ideas, so I want you to think completely out of the box, by going online and checking out some magazines on subjects you would never normally be interested in. Take a look at publications on yachting, or cross stitching, or even snowboard racing — it doesn’t matter. Check out trade magazines and see what life is like for businesses in completely different industries. Look for cross-marketing ideas in the ads. View the world from a new angle and you’ll be amazed at what great ideas come to you.
3. Let yourself be silly. Tell a joke, play a trick on someone on April Fool’s day, wear a disguise and see if anyone recognizes you. It doesn’t matter — just give yourself permission to let go. When we overcome our inhibitions, creativity blossoms.
4. Give yourself permission to be wrong. Don’t beat yourself up, or blame everyone else. Look at what went wrong and find the silver lining (there almost always is one if you look hard enough with a creative eye). The silver lining from lessons learned can lead to creative gold.
5. Think creatively when you don’t have to be focused on anything else. I call these auto-pilot times: taking a shower or bath, riding in a cab or a bus, waiting in a doctor’s office, etc. Make sure you have your tablet, smartphone, or even a pencil and notebook ready at hand (except in the shower!) to record the ideas that arise.
6. Be mindfully open to ideas. Constantly look for things that work in other sectors and see if you can adapt them for your business. Viagra was a heart medication before someone noticed one of its side effects and started pitching it to a whole new market!
7. Do things differently. Start with simple things: tomorrow morning, brush your teeth or comb your hair with your other hand. The act of doing things in an odd, uncomfortable way will give you a new perspective. Think what you could do differently in your business today.
8. Feel like eating out at your favourite restaurant tonight? Don’t! Visit a website like Yelp, Urban Spoon, or TripAdvisor, and pick a random restaurant from the search results for “Victoria, B.C.” and eat there, whether or not you like the style of food. Getting out of your routine will fertilize your creativity.
9. Go to a Ferrari dealership and utilize your sales skills. Convince them you are wealthy enough to warrant a test drive. Think about what driving and owning a Ferrari would feel like.
10. Practise breaking the ice. Call up a random telephone number in another province, and after apologizing that you have the wrong number, converse long enough to at least find out what the weather is like where the person you called lives.
11. Open the entertainment section of your local paper. Cut out all the movies that are advertised, put them in a hat, and pick one. Go see that film regardless of whether you think you’ll like it.
12. Make a list of all the people in business you know and take one of them out for lunch, for no other reason than to get to know them better (note: it should be someone with whom you’ve never dined).
13. Buy, borrow, or download the next business book you see, or hear about, and read it. As you read it, list all the things you could implement in your business that would make you more effective.
14. Set apart a creative space in your home. Somewhere where you go only to read or think. Visit it often — by yourself.
15. Keep an ideas book, or use whatever electronic device you have, to note down any idea, or even half-idea as soon as it comes to you — even in the middle of the night when you are semi-dreaming. An idea that means nothing today could be a breakthrough tomorrow.
16. Break the rules. If you’re not breaking the rules, chances are your “new” idea has probably been done before.
17. Ignore reality while inventing new things, or coming up with new ideas. Reality only kicks in when you enter the implementation phase.
18. Have fun. You can only be creative when it’s fun.
19. Learn a new skill. Think of a friend or family member who can do something particularly well and ask them to teach you how to do it. Learning something new always boosts your creative juices. Try ballroom dancing or juggling — both are amazingly good for inducing creativity!
20. Encourage creativity in your company and with the people around you by sharing this list, and have regular “anything goes” brainstorming sessions.
Georgescu and Dorsey remind us that we need to constantly reinvent ourselves and come up with new products and solutions to meet our customers’ needs. Being excited and keeping one step ahead of the competition will ensure that during a period of oversupply, our customers continue to choose us.
I think I’ll re-read their book, once I finish Skin and Ink magazine!