In the words of Henri Matisse, "creativity takes courage", and it seems that many of us in the marketing industry lack the confidence to be truly creative. We are constantly reminded of the importance of creativity and often consider it to be a key success factor, but few seem to be putting their money where their mouth is and are settling for a vanilla campaign.
Playing it safe won't pay off
Many of us would consider a failed campaign to be one of bad taste, causing an uproar. However, what about dull, safe, cliché content that no one notices? Does that do anything for a brand's reputation? It is unlikely that your brand will find itself in a situation like Victoria's Secret when it had to navigate a PR storm following its 'perfect body' campaign - in most cases, the main repercussions are a bad landing page or poor targeting which result in little engagement. Instead, many marketers seem to rely on the tried and tested method, working on the same campaign year after year because that is what they know, but not always what's best.
Inspiration is everywhere
Stepping out of your comfort zone is easier said than done but as tough it may be, it can be worth it. Check out Tippex's campaigns for example. Correction fluid may not seem exciting, but the team has revived the brand through its Hunter and Bear YouTube videos, which allows the viewer to re-write the story by 'tippexing' the ending. The marketing team seems to have achieved what many companies struggle to - inserting a non-tech product into the digital age - which drove engagement with a relevant audience and also got all the right people talking. On to another not so sexy topic; toilet paper. Charmin successfully portrayed itself as a light-hearted, consumer-friendly brand through its #tweetfromtheseat social media campaign, encouraging users to share their wise words from their bathrooms. The humour created a lot of interaction with its customers and should serve as a reminder for all of us that with some creativity, any brand can really grab attention.
Some people argue that creativity is something you are simply born with, much like a strong singing voice, or the ability to roll your tongue; you've either got it or you haven't. Wrong - just like any other talent, creativity takes practice and effort, and perhaps most importantly, the correct environment in which to thrive. There are many steps you can take to ensure your whole team is fulfilling their potential. We've all got creativity in us. It's just a case of bringing it to the fore. So where to start?
• Skip the nitty gritty and encourage everyone to look at the bigger picture. I have seen many marketers concentrate on specific product features when in reality that isn't what consumers care about. Think about a vacuum cleaner, you probably don't care or even understand the technical detail behind the suction but you will care that it will reduce the time you spend vacuuming by 50%, giving you crucial time with your family back. Do not try to sell the product specs in your campaigns, but instead really think about why anyone would want your product.
• Focus on the brand narrative. Behind every product is a story - the reason you brought it to life in the first place. Do not be afraid of looking back and concentrating on the story as it can often re-ignite what initially made it a success whilst keeping ideas in line with what the company can achieve.
• Understand the brand you are working with. For every product there is a consumer - find that consumer and understand what makes them tick. Then work out how to get them to notice you.
• Use data to fuel your campaigns to really hit that sweet spot that many brands strive to achieve. Getting hold of and analysing your audience data is key to understanding what makes your target market tick, and furthermore, what will ultimately increase your brand notoriety and long-term relevancy.
• Take your lead from new companies. Start-ups and contender brands often lead the way in creative marketing. Why? Because they have so much less to lose, and often they are much agiler. Established brands are often weighed down by brand guidelines and accepted work practices. While you can't rebrand a household name just for the sake of it, take inspiration from smaller brands on individual campaigns and projects.
• Creativity is the art of the possible. We can all be creative if we are not constrained by budgets, brand guidelines, or the basic laws of physics. But sadly, most of us have to operate within those parameters. True creativity is making something amazing with the time, money and resources available to you.
In a world where the average person reads an article for 15 seconds, marketers need to up their game. With so many channels of communication nowadays, it is the creative brand that will disrupt the norm and get noticed. Consider what you could do differently today to reach your consumers in a creative way - the future of your brand may depend on it.
This article was first published on the Digital Marketing Magazine website.