Marketing Creativity

Marketing + Creativity

Introduction

This chapter presents concise practical methods to help you become more creative. It will cover the creative process and while also suggesting 6.2 practical tools to increase your creative abilities. This chapter uses scientific research studies and direct knowledge from marketing and sales professionals to help you differentiate yourself and your product or service.

Why Study Creativity?

Psychology experts, innovation consultants, and sales professionals all agree on one thing, you can learn to be creative. Most people would agree on a scale of 1-10 that the value of creativity would be rated as an 8, 9, or 10. If asked how creative you are how would you rate yourself? How would your co-workers rate you? (Gitomer, 2004). Research studies have noted that in a group of 20 people only 2-3 participants will say they are a creative person yet this is a learnable skill that virtually everyone values. Around 10% of us see ourselves are creative and even those few individuals report a general inability to be highly creative during the 9-5 workday (Mostert, 2007). Part of this problem might be that the extrinsic demands and pace of work does not allow your brain time to look at the big picture and ponder on large challenges at work. This chapter will help you come up with more creative ideas and enable you to discover and refine those ideas faster than you could before.

Psychologists distinguish between two types of thinking, divergent and convergent. Divergent thinking is generally thought of as being closely related to creativity with thoughts diverging into a wide variety of topics or associations. Convergent thinking brings together information focusing on a problem that usually has only one correct solution. The stages of creativity include preparation, incubation, illumination, evaluation, and elaboration. You can see in Table 1 that the ability to think in both convergent and divergent fashions is required to maximize the value of your new ideas (Carson, 2007). Switching between convergent and divergent modes of thinking is not easy for most people, but creative aides such as the creative tools suggested below can make the process easier (Parnes, 1975).

Creativity Tools

Highly creative people make more remote associations and come up with more unique solutions that the average person (Gruszka, 2002). These creativity tools can help increase the number of remote associations you make, direct your thinking, save you time, and add value to the final solution you choose to address a challenge. This list of tools is not original or exhaustive but it is valuable as a starting point for increasing your creative abilities as an investment marketing professional.

The tools in this chapter include:

1. Hiring and Managing for Creativity

2. Enhancing Creativity

3. SCAMPER

4. Idea Quota

5. Mind Mapping

6. Future Fruit

6.2 Sharpen Your Saw

Creativity Tool #1: Hiring and Managing for Creativity

One way to enhance creativity at your firm is hiring creative people. Common traits among highly creative people include intelligence, intellectual curiosity and preference for complexity, novelty-seeking, unconventionality, absorption in work, assertiveness, drive, self-assuredness, and perseverance. This list of traits can be used to either identify people who are more likely to be creative than the average person.

Once hired, the most effective way to increase each employee’s creativity is to let them work on something they love. Research has shown that intrinsic motivation seem to be highly correlated with a high creativity output (Carson, 2007). Part of their job description should be written by the employee it governs and directs. Allow them to seek out solutions to company or industry challenges that are intrinsically rewarding (Sternberg, 1998). A great example of this idea in practice is Google. This firm allows each and every employ spend 20% of their work week on innovative product, customer service, and sales ideas. This has provided the company with a hard to replicated competitive advantage.

Creativity Tool #2: Enhancing Creativity

There are 9 scientifically grounded factors in enhancing creative achievement. These include:

1) Purpose

2) Basic skills

3) Domain-specific-knowledge

4) Curiosity

5) Motivation

6) Self-confidence

7) Willingness to take risks

8) Self competition

9) Creativity aides

Not all of these must be present and they are not of equal importance but each usually plays a role and can contribute to creative results (Sternberg, 1998)

Jeffrey Gitomer is an internationally recognized sales expert and author. His research and feedback does not come from controlled scientific studies but from trial and error while toiling as a low level sales associate for years before his hard work and creative selling techniques earned him millions of dollars as a sales executive and eventually CEO. He has trained thousands of sales professionals on implementing his creative methods of selling and believes the following 13.5 elements are important factors in your creative success*:

1) Brains

2) Positive Attitude

3) Observing

4) Collecting Ideas

5) Self Belief

6) Support Systems

7) Creative Environments

8) Creative Mentors and Associations

9) Studying Creativity

10) Studying the History of Creativity in your Industry

11) Using Creative Models

12) Open to Risking Failure

13) Seeing Your Creativity in Action

13.5) The Ridicule Factor

*(Gitomer, 2004)

All 13.5 of these elements directly tie into at least one of the 9 scientifically researched methods of creativity enhancement; confirming that the scientific research on this subject is very relevant to investment marketing and sales professionals in the field. Many of these factors of creativity mentioned by both Sternberg and Gitomer can be changed and addressed individually to increase your creative potential.

Equally as important as enhancing creativity is identifying feelings or processes that may limit creative results. Research shows that the following can block creativity: fear of failure, fear of success, guilt, shame, overcoming fantasies, stubbornness, fear of loneliness, and identify issues (Bernard Golden, 2007 as referenced by Carson, 2007).

“Seeing a great idea is one thing – HAVING a great idea is another. Big difference between the guy that invented a pet rock and the guy that bought one. One (the inventor) is a lot more fulfilled (wealthier) than the purchaser.”

Jeffrey Gitomer

Creativity Tool #3: SCAMPER

One of the most widely used creativity aides is SCAMPER. SCAMPER stands for Substitution, Combination, Adaptation, Modification, Putting to other uses, Elimination, and Rearrangement. This is a list of different ways you can think about a challenging problem in order to come up with new possible solutions. To use this tool identify a significant problem that you are facing and apply SCAMPER questions to each step or small module of the problem to see what new ideas you can come up with (Michalko, 2006).

Michael Michalko in his best selling book, “Thinkertoys,” provides a list of questions for investment marketing professionals who want to use this technique. Consider the task for revamping your overall selling techniques. First, you should break up the topic of selling techniques into 5-6 parts, one of which might be focused exclusively on prospecting. Some SCAMPER questions that might help you come up with new prospecting methods could include*:

§ What procedure can I Substitute for my current one?

§ How can I Combine prospecting with some other procedure?

§ What can I Adapt or copy from someone else’s prospecting methods?

§ What can I Modify or alter the way I prospect?

§ How can I put my Prospecting to other uses?

§ What can I Eliminate from the way I prospect?

§ What is the Reverse of prospecting?

§ What Rearrangement of prospecting procedures might be better?

* (Michalko, 2006)

Creativity Tool #4: Idea Quota

Use this tool to tackle your challenges and give your brain a workout every day. Thomas Edison and his employees were always working with quotas. Thomas Edison held over 1,000 patents, his quota was to register a new minor patent every 10 days and major patent every six months. Identify the one problem that you would like to have solved in the next 3 weeks. Next, set a quota of writing down a minimum of three new potential solutions to this challenge each day. This forces you to do three things. First it concentrates you on what is most important on a daily basis. Second it forces you to come up with possible solutions while you are in different moods, thought patterns, and possibly environments. Third, if you allow yourself to freely write down ideas as they come it should produce potential solutions that build on previous ideas and would have been difficult to discover without a structured process (Michalko, 2006).

Creativity Tool #5: Mind Mapping

Mind Mapping is a graphical technique that represents how your mind organizes information that relates to problem solving. As a creativity tool it may allow you to see the where possible gaps or possible new associations exist. The Mindmap is just for you so it doesn’t matter if the relationships between items are confusing to others who view it. As long as you can make sense of it than it serves it purpose.

5 Steps to Mind Mapping:

  1. Identify a problem you are facing and are having trouble solving.
  2. Map out your thoughts and current insights on the problem. Focus only on keywords that will help you remember the main ideas that your mind focuses on.
  3. Take the point of a critic, analyze and study your map. If no ideas come to mind put it away for two days and come back to it. If you do this a couple of times you will usually experience a moment of insight.
  4. Focus on that piece of insight until it develops into a complete idea (Michalko, 2006)

Below is an example of a mind map that a Vice President of a light bulb company drew. He diagrammed the system of 4,000 distributors that his firm worked with as it appeared in his head.


This map showed him where more information might be needed and also where opportunities might exist. This led him to think about his business in many new ways and helped him form his breakthrough idea: energy management. A new division of the company was created around this theme and it led to a huge increase in sales. The Vice President later remarked, “The map led to a cascade of ideas that motivated us to act and create a whole new division (Michalko, 2006).”

Creativity Tool #6: Future Fruit

“In peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace.”

Sun Tsu

In Thinkertoys Michalko suggests thinking of future profits as future fruit. You should have several alternative plans for the future based on a number of probable and improbable events. Having only one possible outcome of events planned for is like planting only one strawberry. The weather could get too hot, someone could come eat your strawberry, or your strawberry could become diseased. If you plant multiple fields of strawberries you will reap a harvest.

6 Steps to Future Fruit:

  1. Identify a particular problem in your investment marketing business
  2. State a specific decision that you will have to make
  3. Break down what forces will have an impact on the decision. These could include economic, technological, product lines, competition, regulatory, etc.
  4. Build five scenarios with drastically different outcomes by varying the effects of each of the major forces of influence.
  5. identify business opportunities within each scenario you create and explore the links of opportunities you identify across different scenarios. (Michalko, 2006)

Creativity Tool #6.2: Sharpen Your Saw

Creativity can be learned, become a student of it. Create a one page cheat sheet for creativity tools and other process improvement tips that describes each lesson in 1-2 sentences. This will help you integrate best practices and new methods of thinking and acting into your daily life. Laminate 5 copies of this piece of paper for your desk, bathroom mirror, shower, and anywhere else you consistently spend time so you will be reminded of them.

Summary

“Imagination is more important than Knowledge”

Albert Einstein

The tools listed above attempt to maximize your creative abilities through sparking divergent thinking and revealing remote associations that might lead to new valuable investment marketing ideas. To become more creative identify which areas of creativity enhancement you should be working on, identify current blocks to your creativity, try using a few of the tools and see which ones work well for you, and become a student of creativity.

References

Allocca, M. A., & Kessler, E. H. (2006). Innovation speed in small and medium-sized enterprises. Creativity & Innovation Management, 15(3), 279-295.

Carson, S. P. (2007). Psychology of creativity professorHarvard Extension School.

Gitomer, J. (2004). Creativity and selling. The little red book of selling (1st Edition ed., pp. 150). Austin, TX: Bard Press.

Gruszka, A., & Necka, E. (2002). Priming and acceptance of close and remote associations by creative and less creative people. Creativity Research Journal,

Michalko, M. (Ed.). (2006). Thinkertoys. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Mostert, N. M. (2007). Diversity of the mind as the key to successful creativity at unilever. Creativity & Innovation Management, 16(1), 93-100.

Napier, N. K., & Nilsson, M. (2006). The development of creative capabilities in and out of creative organizations: Three case studies. Creativity & Innovation Management, 15(3), 268-278.

Napier, N. K., & Nilsson, M. (2006). The development of creative capabilities in and out of creative organizations: Three case studies. Creativity & Innovation Management, 15(3), 268-278.

Parnes, S., & Bondi, A. (1975). Creative behavior: A delicate balance. Journal of Creative Behavior, 9, 149-158.

Rickards, T., & Moger, S. (2006). Creative leaders: A decade of contributions from creativity and innovation management journal. Creativity & Innovation Management, 15(1), 4-18.

Sternberg, J. R. (Ed.). (1998). Handbook of creativity

Tassoul, M., & Buijs, J. (2007). Clustering: An essential step from diverging to converging. Creativity & Innovation Management, 16(1), 16-26.


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