If creativity was all it took to win in the world of business, we’d probably all report in to toddlers. They’re naturally, abundantly creative in a way that adults simply can’t match.
However if you asked a toddler, ‘How can we win Millennials over to our new beetroot flavoured soft drink,’ their answer, while no doubt highly original and creative (or a raspberry), would be unlikely to yield the results you’re looking for. In other words, when you need to be creative to reach a specific outcome, it suddenly gets a lot harder. This can be defined as ‘effective creativity.’
How do you avoid the ‘creativity’ of a CHEETOS Lipbalm and New Coke (two examples of spectacular product innovation flops), and instead find the inspiration to create a Fever-Tree, Treatwell or Propercorn?
It all starts with problems
When you try to design a solution, or dream up an effective creative marketing campaign, without properly understanding your audience’s problems, you’re likely courting disaster.
If your creative process only involves a lot of coffee, pizza, post it notes and members of your team locked into a room for a few hours...you’ll be missing a vital ingredient. Creativity isn’t about moments of divine inspiration, it’s about the methodical exploration of your consumers’ problems.
Without bringing consumer data into the creative process, right from the earliest stages, you’re ignoring the single most important source of information on which to base your output.
The next question is, where do you turn for a ready source of consumer problems?
Ingesting poor consumer data is like eating empty calories. Easy to do when pushed for a quick fix, but not terribly good for you.
A frequent source of calorie-deficient data is social media. It’s easy to access, cheap, and on the surface promises plenty of interesting consumer data.
However scratch just below the surface and you’ll see a vast sprawl of fake accounts, unengaged ‘activity’, vanity metrics, automation and communications designed to make people look a certain way, not reflect how they really feel or behave.
A better solution is to use a Scalable Intelligence platform like Attest, where you can access up to 100 million consumers across 80 different counties, in real time, and really dig into what it is that consumers are frustrated with.
By asking a mixture of quant and qual questions, you’ll gain a deep, statistically robust understanding of your audience’s needs, wants, jobs to be done and challenges. This is a solid base on which to construct an effective creative solution (or a team brainstorm).
Feed your mind
Of course, a diverse information diet is a vital element to cooking up highly original ideas.
In this respect, you ought to make a deliberate point of feeding your mind every day. From independent arthouse movies to popular Netflix series, science and research studies to current events, newsletters on business and podcasts on feminism...everything can be drawn on as a source of inspiration. As Steve Jobs once said, you can only connect the dots looking backwards.
So long as this additional flow of data is layered on top of a solid understanding of consumers and their problems, you’re building an incredible supply of raw materials to draw from.
Sleep on it
When it comes to creativity, unstructured thinking time is crucial. Once you’ve done your research (and even if you’ve got an initial idea in place), give your subconscious a chance to catch up.
Don’t underestimate how important it is to let things percolate; you’ll be surprised at how impactful time away from your idea is. Make sure you’re sleeping well and respecting any ‘white space’ in your calendar to aid this process.
It’s this ‘time off’ that allows your synapses to make stronger connections between all the disparate sources of information your mind’s been exposed to. Original ideas will ferment; elements of consumer understanding and your own unique view of the world will mingle; and the right solution will crystallise.
Method to the creative madness
Whether you need to find a way to broaden your brand appeal, enter a new market, launch a new product, or reposition against a competitor, the process for delivering an effective creative solution is the same.
The output may feel like a lightening strike of inspiration, but the methodology that leads to it is ordered and repeatable.
Use good quality data to deeply understand your consumers—particularly their pain points—so you can find a new way to solve for them; constantly feed your mind with rich, diverse sources of information; and give yourself the space to let it fuse into brilliance.
The result? Effective creativity, time after time.