Being A Creative
How to stay creative? This is a question that plagues people and has even driven some mad. How do you create your masterpiece? Your magnum opus? Well firstly, what is creativity? A dictionary defines it as: “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” So, how can we be original in a world where most people think everything has been done? Has everything really been done, especially in marketing? How do we use our imagination and why should we always use it when marketing? This post will focus on these questions and how we can cultivate creative marketing concepts.
In your day-to-day life, I’m sure you do a lot of things, many times one thing after the other. Like waking up, stretching, bathing, brushing, cooking, eating, walking, driving, working, thinking, listening, talking, laughing, sleeping and the list goes on.
Out of all these things where do you think creativity happens the most? The ones where we’re not thinking as much while we’re doing it. You’ve heard stories from musicians and artists that say how they came up with an idea when they were in the shower. There’s a reason for this.
Everything’s Been Done
After realizing they’re so many things to do in a day we might say “there’s always something to do!” And that’s it, there’s always something to do. If there’s always something to be done then how could it be that everything’s been done? That’s where creativity comes into play. Even the question itself comes from a place of creativity.
That place is a place from childhood, a place that for children is at the forefront of all activities. A child takes on the days task with the thought of saying “how could it be possible that everything’s been done already? If so, then why am I here? What can I do?”
The creative process is a step-by step process that if done freely can bring on more creativity then you ever imagined. We are all creative, even in the little things we do on a daily basis. All creativity is, is doing something a little different from the last time you did it. How can you innovate, add a twist, invent, create something fresh and improve upon something you’ve done repeatedly?
This doesn’t just apply to artists and musicians for example; this applies to everyone even those lovely ladies that clean houses for a living. She may think how can I make this mundane task of cleaning better each time I do it? How can I add something different this time around? That’s creativity!
The Creative Process
“The first stage is preparation, when you search out any information that might be relevant. It’s when you let your imagination roam free. Being receptive, being able to listen openly and well, is a crucial skill here.” – Psychology Today
The gathering of information is the first step. The quote says that we cannot be biased toward a specific source of information; we must be open to look at various sources. Even in the interpretation of the information there is creativity. We can obviously look at an article, photograph, painting or design and just straight out copy it. That’s not exactly what we want though.
We can definitely model it, which is different then copying but creativity goes even further then this. When you interpret information creatively, you think of different ways you can apply the knowledge gained and how you can apply to your unique case. How can you take that knowledge and change it a little, as mentioned before.
The next step is known as the incubation stage, where ideas are set aside for later. Sometimes we leave them there forever and sometimes they come up involuntarily.
In this stage, ideas are in the subconscious and become natural actions for us, part of our daily thought. Here is the reason why we may finally get the idea when in the shower or doing some other task that we’ve done repeatedly like, daydreaming for example.
In order to move along with the creative process we need to take breaks from work and make time for mundane but necessary tasks. We must also make sure to change our environment once in a while.
For example, if we are used to working 8-10 hour days on the computer then we really need to get outside and enjoy nature for a while. A change of environment will naturally foment ideas.
“The unconscious mind is far more suited to creative insight than the conscious mind.” – Psychology Today
The next step in the creative process is the popular stage. The one where your idea becomes popular, where everybody recognizes you but not so much the hard work that it took to get there. It’s the “Aha!” moment.
The last stage is known as the translation stage where the idea gets realized, when you take action and, not only you can benefit from it but others as well. So, what are some ways we can stay creative and therefore remain ahead of the pack?
Never going with the crowd
When starting out with marketing or advertising people tend to model other ideas they see. Although, it is good to model others we should not copy them. It’s best to do this when starting out but if we really want to be creative with our ideas and concepts we really need to move away from what’s been done already.
The most successful marketing campaigns have moved away from what was being done at the time. If we think of the ways beer was advertised in the past, for example. The focus was always on the lifestyle in a general sense and on the product like how crisp and refreshing it is.
Today we see a company like Dos Equis, which has put a face on their brand and given him a great name: The most interesting man in the world. This campaign skyrocketed their brand awareness and sales. They moved away from the norm.
As marketers in today’s wealth of information we really have to whip up creative marketing concepts. For example, thinking of creative ways to marry text to images. When there’s a gap from reading the text in an ad to seeing the picture it causes the viewer to think and make a connection. This practice has been done for decades because it works but how can we think of fresh and different ways of doing this?
Another example is a great campaign done years ago by The Economist magazine, where it was just text on a red background, the font identified with their brand and it said: “I never read The Economist.” This meant that if you didn’t read The Economist you weren’t in the know, a great connection the viewer could make.
The ads were on billboards and magazines but also strategically place on the top of red buses where they could be seen from high-rise buildings. And, just who were the people in the high rises? Most likely people that read the economist or that should’ve been reading it.
Moving away from so-called established rules
Another thing that kills creativity is evaluation, like when kids first start school. They have to get good grades and to do so they have to do exactly as they’re told. This interrupts the creative process and really kills creativity; it leaves no room for play, for experimentation or imagination.
When kids figure out everything they do in school is in order to get a “good grade” then there’s really no enjoyment in the process. They’re not doing it to have fun and really learn something for their own self-development.
Creativity flourishes best when there are less factors battling for the control of your behavior. Time is directly related to this. Although, it can be good to set deadlines and meet them, having them looming over your head is another creativity killer.
There is a lot more fun in doing something just to do it and seeing how far you can take it. A lot of success stories stem from this sentence. Like John Chow, who became a millionaire blogger because he wanted to see if it was possible to make money from his hobby so, he made a daily case study of his attempts at making money on his blog.
Setting aside time for creativity cultivation
If you want to be more creative then you really have to make time for it. You have to make time to delve into your passion and do it daily, without even thinking about it. Eventually you will start creating new and fresh approaches your passion.
A study published in the journal Thinking and Reasoning, found that we are actually more creative when we are least alert. In other words if you think you’re a morning person, well it’s actually been proven that you’re more creative in the later hours of the day (and vice versa). So setting aside time for creativity is really not that hard after all.
Being an introvert
Ignore everyone. It can really be that simple. You can really tap into your creative juices if you forget about self-awareness and what other people may think.
Spend time with yourself and, do it often. There is no better way to get the imagination working then being alone for blocks of time.
So many people are stuck at the information stage of the creative process because they care too much about how others will react. They even have pre-conceived notions of how they think people will react and this influences the way they think and critique their own actions.
Using Creative Marketing Concepts
As we’ve learned throughout this post there really is a balance necessary to achieve anything creative. For example, you need to schedule time for creativity but also lose the notion of time when in the creative act.
So how does all of this apply to our marketing, especially as creatives? If we apply some of the above concepts to our marketing we can really have an endless stream of creativity.
“Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.” – Psychology Today
All marketing does is build awareness and curiosity in your prospect to then lead them towards buying. To stand out in the ocean of marketers we really have to be creative in our approach.
For example, a powerful headline can spark curiosity but a connection needs to be made by the viewer. This connection occurs from the headline to your content where your prospect needs to engage in order to “get it”.
There are so many types of content today that the possibilities to create connections between them really are endless. We need to use our imagination and visualize new approaches and see ourselves achieving bigger things then ever before.
The imagination can really take us to huge goals if we put it to work. Using our imagination daily to visualize our goals and taking action; doing whatever it takes to make it happen is really one of the greatest secrets of creativity.
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