Updated: Mar 24
I'm not sure why we nod our heads agreeing that creativity and innovation matter in business. I'm almost convinced that no one but the truly awake businesses believes this and the rest just pay lip service.
All over the Internet there are articles, reports, and studies that demonstrate that creativity and originality are by far the most powerful forces in advertising communications. If you want to market anything well, you need to think creatively about the entire customer journey, which is a product journey. As someone once said, maybe it was Tim Cook, if you don't know what the product is, it's you. This is the truest and probably most depressing thing I've ever heard. But this is the reality.
Whether you're the product or not (you are), isn't really the main point of what I want to say on this subject. But if you want any evidence that creativity matters in business, take Tim Cook's (or whomever's) word for it: it was a creative brain that made you the product. And it has made Facebook and Apple and Google billions and billions of dollars. My prediction is that it will be these three companies, especially Google, who ends up ruling the world and truly developing an integrated Internet of Things. And they will have done it with creativity as their highest octane fuel, with not a whimper of discontent from its customers.
So, why do people think a different set of rules apply to their businesses? Why do people throw nickels around like manhole covers in search of the cheapest (worst) creative solutions?
This is one of the biggest things that confuses me, having been working in the advertising and marketing industry for 20 years: how is it that many potential clients can't seem to understand the true power of creativity?
To many, creativity doesn't really even enter the picture. It's devalued to the regions of graphic design. We aren't talking about creative 'look' here. We're talking about Creative Strategy, which is sometimes (often and should and will be) visual. But that's not all it is. Creativity in business should help you revolutionize your business. And do a heck of a lot of other things. Like, make people want to work for you. And make you more money. What was Apple's profit this year? Or over the last decade? How about Google? Or Facebook?
Daily I confront the pricing bias: the idea that 'if I knew it was going to cost $5 dollars I would have done it myself.' Or the idea that when times are leaner, marketing is often the first to be tossed overboard as an expense. What gets lost in almost every campaign or marketing program discussion I have ever had is the ultimate importance of creativity. It's like people think creativity equates commodity, and that it's a commodity anyone can deliver. After all, there are great designers and web developers, etcetera, for cheap, who can make your 'brand' everything it needs to be, right?
The problem of course is that real creativity is not a commodity. Creativity is a finite resource. And not everyone has it in the same capacity. But it is in recognizing and wielding creativity that your true competitive advantage lies.
You under-estimate the power of creative and innovative thinking if you think of creativity as 'creative services.' Creative services does not equate creativity - or even good thinking. The number of times that I have seen companies hire the wrong people for the job is staggering. Or the untested assumptions that get made around the notion that anyone can be 'creative' and all that we need to do is either find the cheapest 'creative' we can find; or hire a 'creative' and internalize the whole affair. Quality seems to often take a backseat. But quality creative thinking and strategy doesn't take a backseat with the big boys. They know better. And that's why they dominate market share and the future of things.
Creativity, I can tell you, can help change your business strategically. And you really ignore it or treat it like a commodity at your peril.
I could go on. I might go on. Really I can't say enough about this. But don't take it from me. Take it from Tim.