Monday, December 12, 2005

Creativity is key, the rest is just details

The more I have thought/pondered/obsessed/wondered about marketing, the more I have come to realize just how important creativity is in the marketing process. Think about it: great marketing is contingent upon coming up with breakthrough (a.k.a brand-spanking-new and creative) ways to meet people's needs. That is incredibly tough work considering that most people's important needs are already met, most of the time anyway, and that marketing has been honed to such a science that odds are if you can think if it, it's already been tried.

Which leads me to a post on my favorite blog of all-time: Creating Passionate Users. I had been wanting to write up a post about creativity, and Kathy (author) already did it (and much better than what I could have done)! Kathy wrote an insiteful post, Creativity on speed. The gist of her point is that "When you're trying to make creative breakthroughs, slowing down gives the rational part of your brain all the time it needs to stop an idea before you're barely aware of it. When it comes to building/creating/playing something you didn't even know you were capable of, speed is your friend." This was surprising to me, but a relief as well since I have no problem finding shortages of time to test this out. She also references an interesting article written by a movie sound guy entitled, On Being Creative, which ends with the following 3 tips for being creative:

  • "Learn your craft thoroughly."
  • "Begin each project with few assumptions about the methods you will use. Let the needs of the project, most of which you won't know until after you've gotten your feet wet, determine your approach. [I can vouch for this one!]"
  • "Experiment as early and as often and as inexpensively as possible. Make lots of mistakes when mistakes are cheap." [I'd love to see this encouraged by more organizations!]
This post dovetails with a previous one from Kathy that has to do with adding sliders (basically, a metaphor for finding breakthrough opportunities). She concludes the post with tips for finding new sliders, which essentially help you to think outside the sliders (you'll get it when you read it). Her posts are long, but they're the only long blog posts I actually digest completely because they're just so great.

I'd really like to hear what strategies you use to get your creativity in gear. Any tips or resources you'd recommend? I know you're out there doing creative things, so come on and share what works!

[Update: I found a web site ( that has collected some creativity-enhancing tools and described how and when to use them. Maybe you'll find it useful too.]

[Another update: I just noticed that the current issue of Marketing Treasures has an article devoted to brainstorming techniques.]

1 comment:

steven bell said...

Jill - thanks for sharing your thoughts about techniques for stimulating creativity. Creating Passionate Users is certainly a good blog to follow for inspiration. And thanks for suggesting other sources. I think what you call creativity is what I would refer to as innovation - coming up with a new idea - or possibly just trying something that would be new for your library. Let's face it. We can't all be creative geniuses, but there is no reason why we can't learn what the creative folks are doing and figure out if something makes sense - first! - for our user community and then make an effort to implement that idea - and to sometimes take a risk in doing so. It doesn't do much good to come up with a creative idea if you aren't willing to take the risks involved in giving it a try - and perhaps failing. In terms of what I think promotes creativity/innovation, I would point to "keeping up" - but particularly in disciplines other than your own. If you just follow the library literature, you are going to miss all sorts of creative work going on in other fields. I think many of the creative ideas simply come from being influenced by something you read or see, and morphing that idea into something new for your environment. So I would encourage librarians to develop a regimen for following a set of magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc. that stimulate their thinking about whatever is of most interest to them personally.