Creativity for Success: Don’t be a Cow in the Rain!

25 Nov 2015

‘The average man is a conformist, accepting miseries and disasters with the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain.’

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek

Too many of us follow the crowd. We stick to the rules. We conform.

Yet, we know that creativity makes the difference between a mediocre business and a great one. The difference between success and failure.

A culture of creativity at home and work encourages better problem solving, more innovation, greater happiness and competitive advantage.

‘Creativity is the crucial variable in the process of turning knowledge into value.’

John Kao (Harvard Business School)

Most of us work in highly competitive markets and there’s too much focus on price competition.  The less developed world is catching up and it’s taking our jobs. We have to innovate to survive, thrive and stay ahead.

Use creativity to make your advertising stand out

We’re exposed to more than 2,500 adverts a day.  But, can you remember any from yesterday?

Most of us become immune to advertising messages because most don’t engage, inspire or interest us. This is why creativity is so important in your marketing.

How and in what channels you deliver your message is as important as the message itself, if you want to persuade and achieve cut-through.

A powerful creative idea makes your communications stand out and significantly increases response rates.  It won’t just generate more business, it will save you money, increasing your return on investment and make your marketing budget, no matter how small, have the impact of a much bigger one.

Creativity should foster brand love

Building brands is essential for success, even if your brand is local or niche.

You must work with the hearts and minds of your customers. Emotions drive rational behaviour. Rational communication isn’t enough.

What’s your brand story? Put it at the heart of your marketing.

How to be more creative

Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.

William Blake, Poet

Some of us don’t see ourselves as creative, but it’s a skill that can often be learnt. It may simply be down to the rules you’re forced to work with or  self-perception. Creative people see themselves as creative and give themselves the freedom to create. Uncreative people don’t.

Creativity is about listening, looking and reading a lot on a particular subject to find that germ of an idea that inspires you to act and change. Creativity needs to be fed with information and learning. Absorb, grow and be inspired.

Learn to harness the power of your right brain. Generate seed ideas. Leave them in your head for your right brain to process. How often have you gone to sleep with a problem and woken with the solution?

Bounce your ideas off colleagues. Escape to the hills. Go for long walks with friends. Create space. I often come back from a long weekend or a holiday full of new ideas.

Stress and fear are the enemies of creativity and innovation. Taking breaks is healthy; holidays free-up the mind; unnecessary routines, like the 9 to 5 straight jacket, breed mediocrity; excessive red tape and bullying behaviour box us in. Change the rules. Banish the blame culture. Give your staff space and flexibility. Encourage initiative and collaboration.

One of the best sources of creativity is ‘mind-chatter’ that comes into your head when you’re doing something else.

Creativity is about surprise. It’s about thinking beyond the rules and not being constrained by boundaries.

One crazy idea can lead on to something amazing. So, keep your mind open.

However, you don’t have to come up with the next big thing. A lot of product development is based on iterative steps, small improvements to existing products or services.

Start by doing some personal brainstorming. Contrary to popular opinion, many of the best ideas come from brainstorming on your own. Only then run a group brainstorming session. You could consider using Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats technique, which encourages everyone to think in the same direction at the same time.

However, don’t just generate ideas. Execute your best ideas to test them out. Often it’s action that really forces you to be innovative. In the end, it’s all about taking action.

Be creative throughout your business

Don’t just apply creative thinking to your products or marketing communications. Apply creative thinking to all areas of your marketing, right across the marketing mix: to your products, pricing, distribution, communications, processes, people, positioning and budgets.

Change in the environment is constant and businesses need to innovate to thrive and succeed.  What are your competitors up to? What are the trends affecting your industry?

Some people say ‘follow your gut’ but that can be wrong. Next time you’re presented with a creative idea don’t make a quick decision because gut instincts can mislead. Sleep on it.

Surround yourself with positive people

Exact numbers aren’t needed to realize that we spend too much time with those who poison us with pessimism, sloth, and low expectations of themselves and the world. It is often the case that you have to fire certain friends or retire from particular social circles to have the life you want…

Tim Ferriss

Western thinking is too full of criticism. Our cultures and schools breed analysis and negativity. Good ideas hate environments where there’s criticism, narrow-mindedness or personal attacks.

Courtesy of Christopher Lamotte at Real Marketing Specialists.

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