Can anyone define the creative process? Does it take a specific environment, two people with opposing talents or a single vision to create that unique product that will help to define a certain century?
Lately, I’ve heard a lot on the subject of creativity and how it is an important element for North American businesses to stay competitive. But, can a business make creativity as their core competency and can creativity drive business performance?
The short answer is yes and no.
No one can standardize creativity; it is as unique as our thumbprint.
What a company can do is develop an environment that allows for creative thinking, a place for tinkering, time to brainstorm, and the opportunity to present differently. Different plans, different ways to sell, different ways of brand building. But, like everything else this is not without its challenges.
Creativity: Hire Out, Hire New
The most important factor you need to consider is if you want to develop creativity as the core competency for your business, then creativity will be a variable. Meaning, your core competency will be dependent on the people you hire and sometimes these people, your best people will move and yes, even to the competition. As a result, at times, your business may suffer from a low scale of creativity.
I don’t have clear answers, but it’s probably why most companies hire safe. They will hire the 30-year sales veteran, staff their entire marketing department from the same industry, and bring in people they know. People look for the right fit as opposed to the right person.
Take for example a past assignment where the sales team was very excited to have a “new marketing person” on board. They would say, “We need to hear from X! She is new and not from our industry. X can bring in a new perspective and change it up on how we do things.” Guess what? Senior management didn’t like it; they wanted one that follows the rules, one that doesn’t disrupt the team. The company is now on a hiring freeze; sales lead generation is down, website misses the mark on engagement, and their stock value hasn’t grown.
I get it. If it was successful in the past, then repeat. If the competition is doing it, then copy. If it’s on-trend, then act.
But what if you’re losing sales to the competition or lead generation is dropping, what then? Maybe at your next company meeting ask yourself; “did I hire safe or creativity”?
Creativity: Marketing is Not a Department
Have you heard the saying, “Finance was yesterday, Sales is today, and Marketing is tomorrow.” Well, it’s true. Marketing is not a department. People who work in marketing need to have a vision, more importantly, understand yours! You need to see from these people a level of creativity in tactical planning, have a genuine interest in working with sales and just “gets it” when it comes to trade shows. If you’re thinking trade show is only about getting the booth to the conference on time and having a generic promotion like a drone giveaway to get leads – you’re wrong!
Do your marketing people push for new ideas, ask the questions that no one wants to ask and always want to do better? Or, do they flip out at the slightest mistake, fight unnecessary battles with colleagues and work with their egos?
Do they do the hard work, conduct competitive analysis or simply believe in just pumping out quarterly webinars and case studies hoping that something will stick?
Doing is not creativity.
And, marketing is not a department. It is a group of people who are forward-thinking, visionary tacticians, builders of companies who proudly steps up and plays to win!
Creativity: Everyone Needs To Understand Your Business
Let’s say you are a “me too” businesses, most likely you run your business based on pricing strategy. However, this is a short-term strategy and will eventually hurt the company, finding yourself dropping the price to a point where you eventually lose profits. This type of business is marketing dependent; you need to consider it as a “marketing-driven” company and not a sales driven company.
Do your people understand your business?
Did you hire a marketing strategist, someone who can get creative with strategy implementation or someone with a Political Science background with good writing skills to run your forward-thinking, visionary, company builder department? Would you hire someone who likes the facade of buildings to be your anticulture or should you hire an architecture?
Creativity: Loosen the Brand Policy
If you want the creative juices flowing from your staff, then throw something new into the mix. Not ambiguities rather consider loosening the brand policy and allowing your staff to present new creative ideas on how they see your brand. You may be delightfully surprised at discovering how much your employees love your company and want only success.