Guest Blog Provided By: Michele PW
1. It’s not your grandfather’s communications model. Communications has drastically changed since, say, the 1970s when advertising was in its heyday (actually most of the 1900s, but the 1970s is a good representative year).
Target markets are fragmented, customers have more demands on their time and they’ve learned to shut out the majority of advertising messages out there. The old ways of marketing based on advertising don’t work the way they used to. To succeed in the new communications model, you need every advantage you can find. And that includes harnessing your creativity.
2. Break through the information/products overload. The Internet has been the biggest boom to small businesses everywhere. It’s simple and affordable to sell your products and/or services to anyone in the world. However, the ease of setting up an Internet business means lots of people are doing it. Lots of people doing it means lots of products and services are available.
The easiest way to set yourself apart from the other 16 million websites out there is to enlist the help of your creativity.
3. If it looks like your competitors’ marketing plan… While it’s always good to know where your competitors are putting their marketing dollars, it may not be smart to be there too. (What I’m referring to are the different marketing vehicles, such as print publications, radio stations, billboards, event sponsorships, community groups, etc.) This is especially a problem if you’re always following your competitors’ lead and are never “the first” to take advantage of a new opportunity.
Think of it this way: If your message is only appearing in the same places as your competitors, how are you going to keep from blending into the crowd?
I’m not saying to ignore the places where your competitors are hanging out. I’m just saying you had better get creative with your marketing vehicles. Maybe you need a token presence on some media outlets while you branch out and look for other “off the beaten track” opportunities you can own.
4. If it smells like your competitor’s marketing message… Producing similar marketing materials to your competitors’ is a surefire way to get your customers to ignore you. Take cars for instance. Can you tell me the difference between a Ford and Chevrolet commercial (other than the tagline)? Do you even know if the commercial you’re remembering IS a Ford or Chevy commercial?
See what I mean?
And when your customers can’t remember what’s different between you and your competitor, how will you convince them to buy from you rather than your competitor?
Getting creative with your marketing will help your message stand out from the crowd.
5. Harness the power of your creativity for your marketing. Not only is there power in using your creativity, but there’s power in new ideas. Skeptical? Think of the surge of energy you feel during that “A-ha” moment. Think of all the excitement surrounding a new idea. You can even take it further and look at the energy surrounding the creation of a new life (which, when you get right down to it, is the ultimate act of creation). When you focus that power on your marketing, there’s no telling how far it will take you.
6. Enjoy your marketing. Let’s face it. Marketing isn’t always fun. In fact, sometimes it’s drudgery. But when you add your creativity to the mix, your marketing takes on something completely different.
Being creative is fun. So, the more you can blend your creativity with your marketing, the more fun you’ll have with your marketing. And the more fun you have, the more you’ll do it (and the more results you’ll see).
7. Use it or lose it, baby. The more you use your creativity, the more creative you become and the more your creativity will spill over in other parts of your life. What better way to consistently make use of your creativity than by making it a part of your marketing plan?
No matter where you are on the creativity scale, your attempts at creativity won’t hurt your marketing (no matter how “bad” you think you are at it). But if you don’t at least try to be creative, you’re definitely never going to stand out from the crowd. And, chances are, being creative will only enhance your marketing – probably in new and unexpected ways.
That’s the beauty of creativity – you never know when or how it will step through the door, bringing with it the all the energy and excitement of new adventures.
So HOW do you make your marketing more creative?
Below are five tips designed to get your creative juices flowing. Some are brainteasers or are what Michael Michalko in “Thinkertoys” calls Linear Thinkertoys. Others fall under intuition or Intuitive Thinkertoys.
Some tips may appeal to you more than others. My suggestion is to try them all. Even the ones you’re not drawn to may still open some doors that wouldn’t have opened any other way.
These tips will work whether you sell a product, a service or both.
1. Find the “second right answer.” Roger von Oech talks about this in A Whack on the Side of the Head. Don’t be content with the first good idea you come up with. Take the time to think of a second, or third or 50th idea. Quantity counts – the more ideas you have to choose from, the more likely you’ll discover an excellent or even a brilliant one. Remember, Thomas Edison discovered thousands of ways a light bulb didn’t work.
2. Change the question. If you change the question, you’re probably going to get a different answer. You say you want to sell more products? What if you changed the question to how can you make more money? Well, there are other ways to make more money than to sell more products – maybe you lower the cost of making the product or you raise the price of the product. Now you suddenly have new avenues to explore rather than just going down the same tired path.
3. Ask your product or service how it wants to be sold. Now we move into more intuitive techniques. Start by getting yourself into a relaxed state. Take a few deep breaths or practice some relaxation techniques. Imagine your product or service in front of you. Now ask it questions. Who do you want to be sold to? How do you want to be sold? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Who do you think you can help? Why do you want to help them? You can also do this technique as a journal exercise. Write down the question and answer. See what bubbles up onto the paper.
4. Paint a public relations campaign. What would a press release look like if you painted it? Or sculpted it? How about a dance number? A collage? Take any part of your marketing that troubles you and turn it into a piece of art. By combining two dissimilar acts, you may discover your answer. Or you may not come up with anything at all, but just the act of “playing” and “creating” could jolt something loose. Hours or days later your idea may suddenly end up in your lap.
5. Walk away from it. If nothing is working, then stop. You can literally walk away by taking a walk, or just quit thinking about it. This is especially important if you find yourself getting frustrated or discouraged. Give your subconscious time to mull things over. The idea may just suddenly appear to you. Or, after a few days, try another exercise or two. That may be the catalyst you need.
The most important tip of all? Make sure you have a blast. Being creative should be fun. Keep it light and fun, don’t struggle too hard with it, and see how many ideas you’re rewarded with.