Marketing today is more of a science than it’s ever been. There’s so much technology, so many tactics and tools, and a wealth of data and analytics. And there might be the perception that good old fashioned creativity comes last.
While it can certainly be hard to keep creative juices flowing when there’s continual pressure to generate winning ideas for marketing campaigns, marketers still need to dig deep even when they might be feeling uninspired. We asked seven marketing professionals for the tips and tricks they use to tap into their creativity.
Rianna Atkins, Digital Performance Marketer, Clearscore
“The most important aspect of the creative process for me is understanding the needs and pressures of the audience I’m trying to reach. I think the hallmark of any good marketer is empathy, and being able to relate to the user at any stage of their journey is paramount in delivering an effective, relevant message.
“For us at ClearScore we have an incredibly diverse audience with a wide spectrum of financial priorities. Understanding this, as well as how users connect with the brand across all touch points, powers the creative process and allows us to provide them with clarity around their financial situation and helps make those big decisions as simple, calm and straightforward as possible.”
“When developing marketing content I use a process called ‘The Content Tree’. A five step approach, it begins with the ‘seeds’ of an idea, lays down ‘roots’, develops into ‘shoots’, grows into a solid ‘trunk’ and ends most importantly in multiple ‘branches’. It involves various people, from the stakeholder to the marketer, analyst, writer and designer.
“The seeds are sown by the stakeholder; we strive to elicit their thoughts on whatever timely topic is keeping their clients awake at night. We then question the audience demographics we are seeking to reach and identify the preferred channels we will later use to output through – the branches of the tree.
“The roots are laid down by the marketer developing a hypothesis for the stakeholder to review. At this stage, we aim to detail the ideas to be tested. The shoots are developed by the analyst through the acquisition and interrogation of data, case studies or evidence. We seek to find multiple proof points of both the problem and the solution in order to validate the hypothesis developed in the roots step.
“The trunk grows to form the whitepaper, articles or series of outputs being produced by the writer, while the branches take content to market through multiple channels where some measurement of value can be derived. This approach to creativity provides a clear structure that can be communicated and agreed with stakeholders.”
“I need to feel what the customer needs first before engaging in any form of creativity. In order to be creative, I need to observe and be inspired. Reading business books inspires me as it stimulates a new thought process that I can then apply to my clients. If I am writing for my own business or developing a customer facing campaign, I dig deep. I go back to my story – what made me get up this morning and what is my vision for the future? This allows me to be driven by passion – I need to have relaxing music and be totally in the zone to write.
“The only way for me to harness creativity in myself is to engage with it and use it to move myself or the client forward. Drive their mission or my own, create a future that has never been seen before. If I need to harness creativity in a client, I get them back to basics too. What do they stand for, why do they get up in the morning, what is their story and bigger picture vision, how and why are they doing what they are doing?”
“When thinking about creative ideas assume that no one cares, because most people don’t. Let’s face it, we can all get by without advertising in our lives. Focus on what people do care about – we like to laugh, we like emotional stories, we like art and music. If we create ideas that connect with our audience in an emotional, playful or visual way, then they might just care about what we have to say.
“This is even more relevant in social media – it’s an engagement channel, the rules are different. To create content that people care about you need to be part of the conversation. Find ways to make your creative relevant to topical conversations or cultural passion points, like food, sport, or travel. The best brands today don’t tell the story, they are the story. They create engaging and relevant content that others want to talk about and share.”
“Creativity comes in a plethora of different ways, people don’t often realise how creative they are. We harness creativity by ‘idea bouncing’ with different people in the teams. I often find that bouncing an idea off someone else means the idea comes back bigger and better and this also helps iron out the details that may not have previously been considered. As the saying goes, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ and when it comes to needing creative ideas this could not be more true.
“Having one creative can work in the short term but without other people’s inputs that one person’s ideas can begin to run out or start repeating. The marketing industry is so competitive with an infinite amount of creative ideas being used everyday, by including other people you can ensure that great ideas don’t get left behind or wasted.”
“I believe in YouTube. The platform is the largest growing phenomenon and everything in marketing is trending towards video so that’s where I start. When beginning a creative or strategy session for a new client I enter search terms and keywords related to my client’s case services, products, team or case studies.
“The videos you get can range from entertainment to how to’s to narratives and they provide the seeds for so many creative and design directions, as well as copy and messaging more generally. It helps me understand the tone and sensibilities of the audience to a very real degree. It’s like tapping into the cultural heartbeat of the target audience and allows you to learn their language, concerns and opportunities better than any other medium.”
Charlotte Townsend, PR Account Executive, Clearly PR
“My creative process always incorporates collaborative working and making use of the expertise and knowledge of the team around me. That’s why, when I’m tasked with putting together a communications strategy for a client, my first action is to brainstorm my ideas with the team and get their feedback.
“I have always recognised that diverse approaches are more successful, so by using the strengths of a collaborative effort, we are able to deliver results for our clients and continue to be innovative in our offering. They say there’s no I in team, and there isn’t one in Clearly PR either!”
A final thought
While marketing is more strategic and data-led than it used to be, marketers believe this actually helps, not hinders, creativity. Gathering reliable insights into customer interests and needs provides a rich vein of inspiration. Developing these ideas with a multidisciplinary team makes for innovative and effective campaigns.
Need fresh consumer insight to spark your creativity? Ask Attest.
Senior Content Writer
Bel has a background in newspaper and magazine journalism but loves to geek-out with Attest consumer data to write in-depth reports. Inherently nosy, she's endlessly excited to pose questions to Attest's audience of 125 million global consumers. She also likes cake.