Creativity is intelligence having fun.
- Albert Einstein
That’s not just a quote. When you read it carefully and think about it, it might just be the one sentence that makes the most sense out of everything you read this week.
The one thing that I personally noticed about this quote was that Einstein said it. To think about it, Einstein was busy proving and disproving theorems, busy with numbers all his life, why is he talking about creativity?
Then it hit me, making breakthroughs, doing the unthinkable, is all about being creative, regardless of whether you are working on a brand new ad campaign or proving the theory of relativity.
With that said, being creative probably matters relatively more for those engaged in offering marketing services (pun intended!).
Most of us enter the field of marketing with dreams of whipping up industry-disrupting copy, graphics and campaigns that will be talked about in marketing classes.
Yet, when you look at the state of marketing, there are only a few creative winners. Most people are doing what others are doing, what the stats tell them to, following the trends, making ads that become a part of the rat race of ads, all competing for the same person’s attention with similar messages.
Thanks to the rise of the internet, we, as a society, are producing more marketing material than ever before. Being creative is perhaps the only way to stand out from all the noise. Thankfully, creativity isn’t something you are born with. It can be taught to any individual and more importantly, creativity can be instilled within any team and any organisation.
Here are a few ways you can start taking your company’s creative marketing game to the next level:
Rethink Your Interview Process
While creativity is a skill that can be learned, you are operating a business not an educational institution. That’s why, it is better to screen candidates for creativity from the get go.
Besides testing them on their technical skills, add a layer of testing to your interview process to test your candidates on their creative aptitude. This can include questions related to the understanding of who your business’ audience is, or fictional problems that can only be solved with creative solutions.
While it may be obvious that you must do this for creative resources like designers and copywriters, it is also a good idea to test every single candidate, for every profile, for creative aptitude.
You never know who may be sitting on the next big idea and simply ignoring the ideas or the creative aptitude of someone because they are interviewing for an HR position is not a great idea.
Remember, even Albert Einstein had to be creative to even think about the theory of relativity before he could go about proving it.
Let The First Days Be All About The Competition
The following advice might be more fitting if it is only applied to creative resources.
On the first day at the job, after the orientation and onboarding processes are done, assign your creative new hires to research the competition. Ask them to prepare a document containing everything they observed, what the competition is doing, what they are doing better than your organisation, where they are lacking, how they could improve in those areas, and every other thing that comes to your mind.
You can even provide them access to a domain research tool to help them conduct a thorough and revealing research.
This exercise will provide your new hires and your organisation with the following benefits:
- New hires will get a feel of what they are up against. They will develop a better understanding of your competition and will start thinking of how to outperform their ideas from day one. This will help your new hires avoid redundant ideas and work on new ones, it will reduce chances of miscommunication and help them better assimilate with the rest of your team.
- The research they conduct and things they include in their report will enable you to better gauge their creative aptitude and their observational capabilities. Based on this information you can take a better call about the kind of projects you want your new hires involved with.
- Once in a blue moon, a candidate might notice something about the competition that you and your existing team may have missed. The value of having a fresh set of eyes look at the problem is truly underrated.
Sign Your Team Up For Marketing Newsletters
Coming up with creative and groundbreaking ideas without inspiration is extremely difficult, if not impossible.
Thankfully, the world of marketing is chalk full of inspiration and people that love showing off their best work in the form of marketing newsletters. You obviously don’t have to outright copy these brilliant ideas.
Reading marketing news and newsletters is a great way of seeing what everyone else is doing and come up with some inspired and unconventional ideas of your own.
The objective of signing up your team to newsletters is to help them develop a habit of consuming such content, going beyond these newsletters and learning about brilliant ads and ad campaigns on their own.
Train For Complementary Skills
Developing more skills is a great way to boost the creative aptitude of your mind.
It’s simple. Every time you learn a new skill, you are also subconsciously teaching your mind to think in a new manner, opening brand new horizons of what the mind can come up with.
With that said, teaching your copywriters about payroll processing is not a good idea. Make sure you are training your resources in complementary skills that they can apply to their jobs.
For instance, teaching copywriters basics of graphic design will help them visualise better. Moreover, it will also enable them to communicate with their design counterparts in a more efficient manner. Similarly, web developers can benefit by learning more about the principles of UI and UX.
Training employees and helping them upskill has a lot of business advantages. Being careful and diligent about the skills you are training them will enable you to enjoy benefits that go beyond simple retention rates and employee satisfaction.
Don’t get me wrong, those are important metrics and should definitely be one of the focus elements of your employee training initiatives. However, making sure employees are being trained in complementary skills will also help you improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of creative collaborations and processes that take place at your organisation.
It is also a good idea to have a strong soft skills training program. With the right skills, your team members will be able to adopt the right habits and will be able to fight off productivity and creativity killers like procrastination.
Foster A Culture Of Creativity
Another way to boost the creative productivity of your team is to promote habits that enable us to be creative and help your team assimilate these habits into their daily or weekly routines.
Habits like always carrying a notepad to jot down ideas and having regular and challenging brainstorming sessions will enable your team members to be more creative.
At the same time, you must also provide your employees with the freedom needed to think creatively. This may mean that you will have to stop expecting them to come up with creative ideas on a schedule. This may also mean giving them the freedom of working from a cafe or from home once a week.
It will also mean giving even the bad ideas a chance and enough consideration. After all, when it comes to coming up with creative solutions, there are no bad ideas.
A culture of creativity may seem ambiguous at first. Some things that help foster creativity may also seem like they are messing with your team’s productive output.
However, being clear about the value of creative ideas and the value of being productive will not only help you set some boundaries, it will also challenge your employees and team members’ management skills.
Provide Constructive Feedback
Not all creative ideas are good ideas. Not every copy written by your copywriter will be absolutely mind blowing.
Smart leaders know that this is perfectly natural. Samerter ones make sure they also communicate it to their team.
The way you handle feedback will influence the way your team members handle rejection of their ideas. The consequences of being too hard on them can be fatal to the creativity that you are trying to foster.
Bad feedback can act to discourage your team members from throwing out any unconventional ideas.
That’s why, it is absolutely critical to be careful when providing feedback.If you reject an article or an email copy, accompany your rejection with the reason and how the problem can be fixed.
This way, not only will you get the desirable result more often, you will also be ensuring that nobody on your team is discouraged from pitching their ideas.
Instilling more creativity within individuals and teams is a gradual process filled with challenges. However, once you perfect the mindset and help others on your team do the same, it is smooth sailing from there.