Creativity is a skill and not magic, genetically inherited, or a blessing from God
March 18, 2012
Marketers will often tell me that they do not care where the big idea comes from. Well it seems it truly can come from anywhere. My colleague and the co-founder of the Marketing FIRST Forum, Dan Hestbaek sent me this article from The Wall Street Journal by Jonah Lehrer titled “How to be creative”
It is well worth reading as it explains the skills that scientists have identified everyone has to be creative.
I found particularly interesting the 10 creative “hacks” as Jonah called them, which are the ways to help unleash your creativity. (How many of these do you see in your agency creative department? Or more importantly how many do you not see in many marketing departments?)
1. Color Me Blue
A 2009 study found that subjects solved twice as many insight puzzles when surrounded by the color blue, since it leads to more relaxed and associative thinking. Red, on other hand, makes people more alert and aware, so it is a better backdrop for solving analytic problems.
2. Get Groggy
According to a study published last month, people at their least alert time of day—think of a night person early in the morning—performed far better on various creative puzzles, sometimes improving their success rate by 50%. Grogginess has creative perks.
3. Daydream Away
Research led by Jonathan Schooler at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has found that people who daydream more score higher on various tests of creativity.
4. Think Like A Child
When subjects are told to imagine themselves as 7-year-olds, they score significantly higher on tests of divergent thinking, such as trying to invent alternative uses for an old car tire.
5. Laugh It Up
When people are exposed to a short video of stand-up comedy, they solve about 20% more insight puzzles.
6. Imagine That You Are Far Away
Research conducted at Indiana University found that people were much better at solving insight puzzles when they were told that the puzzles came from Greece or California, and not from a local lab.
7. Keep It Generic
One way to increase problem-solving ability is to change the verbs used to describe the problem. When the verbs are extremely specific, people think in narrow terms. In contrast, the use of more generic verbs—say, “moving” instead of “driving”—can lead to dramatic increases in the number of problems solved.
8. Work Outside the Box
According to new study, volunteers performed significantly better on a standard test of creativity when they were seated outside a 5-foot-square workspace, perhaps because they internalized the metaphor of thinking outside the box. The lesson? Your cubicle is holding you back.
9. See the World
According to research led by Adam Galinsky, students who have lived abroad were much more likely to solve a classic insight puzzle. Their experience of another culture endowed them with a valuable open-mindedness. This effect also applies to professionals: Fashion-house directors who have lived in many countries produce clothing that their peers rate as far more creative.
10. Move to a Metropolis
Physicists at the Santa Fe Institute have found that moving from a small city to one that is twice as large leads inventors to produce, on average, about 15% more patents.
Does anyone have any other recommendations for technique for producing more creative ideas?
Shooting your next television commercial off-shore has never been more affordable
March 15, 2012
Increasingly more Australian film companies and agencies are looking off-shore for cost effective shooting locations, such as Eastern Europe, South America, South Africa, Asia and closer to home, New Zealand. But why?
While the Australian dollar is high against the major currencies such as the US Dollar, the Pound and the Euro, the cost of producing televisions commercials is more affordable.
The issue for Australian advertisers is that many agencies and film companies will include a contingency for exchange rate fluctuations within their estimates to ensure that they are not exposed to changes during the production.
But likewise, it is important to ensure that either positive change will lead to a refund or the cost is locked in at the time of approval and that the contingency is removed.
Many of these markets offer excellent value in two key areas:
1. Crew costs - film crews are consistently lower in cost than local crews and they work longer standard days before overtime is incurred.
2. Talent costs - Both markets have access to a huge pool of talent due to population size. The combination of the current exchange rate and the higher competition means that rates are typically lower than Australian talent (and even New Zealand).
The main issues that advertisers should be aware of are:
1. Travel - These locations can be expensive to travel to and so any estimate should clearly state the agency and film company travel costs. Also, do not overlook the advertiser costs if you intend to attend the shoot.
2. Travel Time - Directors and producers will typically charge for travel days to and from the location, above and beyond the shoot days. Likewise, agency supervision hours can be higher due to extended travel time. But in most cases the agency will waiver these additional charges for the opportunity of shooting overseas.
3. Facilitation fees - If using an Australian production company, you will find that they will use a “local” film company in the country of shoot to facilitate the production. This means that the locals organise the shoot and pay the bills locally with a mark up of typically 10% – 15%. Then the film company may apply their own production fee mark up on top of this.
Shooting overseas can be cost effective for shoots with high numbers of talent or a particularly long shoot of 3 days or more. But before approving a shoot overseas, make sure:
1. You understand the costs you are paying including any contingencies.
2. The agency identifies where the savings have been achieved over a local production.
3. The agency have explored all local options and that they are comparing like for like.
Of course, for added peace of mind we can review your production costs for any market in the world through our network of consultants in the Marketing FIRST Forum.
The real business cost of all of those back-to-back meetings
March 13, 2012
Over the summer (Southern hemisphere) I was checking out apps similar to the TrinityP3 Resource Rate Calculator Business App on the iTune App Store and came across this beauty from LBi, one of the hot digital shops (who in late 2011 opened an office in Sydney)
I finally got a chance to give it a real life test in a client meeting recently. We were discussing agency remuneration negotiations between the agency and the marketing and procurement team.
There were five people from the client (3 marketers and 2 procurement), eight from the agency (The CEO, CFO, General Manager, Group Account Director and four account management staff). And of course me. 14 in total.
I opened the COMA on my iPhone prior to the meeting, while I was waiting for everyone to arrive (Amazing how it is almost impossible for everyone to get to a meeting on time) and set the parameters. I took a guess at the average hourly rate but with the heavy hitters in the room I think I erred on the low side.
When the meeting finally commenced 20 minutes late (I am not telling who was last to arrive, but there was lots of conversation between the account team and procurement. I set the calculator running and an hour and almost five minutes later stopped it as the meeting was winding up.
One meeting. One hour. 14 people. The cost was almost $3,400. Excluding Tax.
Now before you argue that the marketing and procurement team should not be included in the calculation because the only people charging to be there are the agency and me, the consultant, consider this – All of those people in that room are employed to provide a service to the company. All of those people receive a salary and cost the company overhead and contribute to profit.
Therefore the total cost of that meeting is $3,400 + Tax. Excluding travel and waiting time.
I would recommend everyone go an download the LBi iPhone COMA App from iTune and put your meeting to the test. Work in progress. Internal review meetings. Strategy planning days. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Lets have a competition for the most expensive meeting?
Let me know your COMA results.
Anonymously if you like by direct message on Twitter @trinityp3 and hashtag #COMA
8 reasons for Evalu8ing your advertising agencies, rather than just survey them
March 11, 2012
With more and more agencies and suppliers on most marketer’s rosters, having a fast, effective and easy way to be able to measure, manage and maximise these relationships is becoming increasingly important.
Evalu8ing is an online performance, relationship and collaboration measurement system that unlike other “survey systems” allows you to map the complex relationships within your marketing process and identify where these relationships are performing well and where they need to be improved and managed.
This document provides you with the eight key benefits of the Evalu8ing system.
How marketers can exploit the full power of stories for brand and business strategy alignment
March 8, 2012
Storytelling in marketing is a hot topic, with a growing and well founded belief that legendary brands like Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola and Harley Davidson have been successful building great stories around their products that people naturally want to be part of.
Books for marketers are appearing by people like Seth Godin and Laurence Vincent which instruct the marketer on how to build a company’s brand using stories. But this is only half the story! Everyone is focussed on storytelling while there is huge potential for storylistening.
The power of collecting stories
Marketing professionals have known for some time the power of collecting stories. Dupont collected stories about women’s thoughts on wearing panty hose, and eventually discovered (after first hearing disdain expressed about these garments) that wearing panty hose made women feel more sensual, sexy and attractive to men. Dupont modified its brand image to match these feelings.
Kimberly-Clark collected stories from parents who were toilet training their children, and discovered tremendous stress associated with having children ‘still in nappies’. Pull-ups were introduced, and a new $400 million per year market segment was born.
In both cases the marketeers understood that they were unlikely to discover the telling factors through formal interviews and focus groups. Stories, on the other hand, provided a natural way of expressing what was actually happening. It provided the context required to get at the heart of the issue.
The best form of research is storytelling
Listening to stories is one of the best ways to understand what is happening in a complex and dynamic situation. Analytical methods are great when the issue can be divided into its components but much of life is not that simple. The issues facing marketers involve unpredictable outcomes, ill-defined problems, going with your gut.
Stories help us see the established and emerging patterns from which interventions can be designed. So for marketers there are three skills required to become an effective storylistener:
- Be able to elicit stories from whoever has relevant stories to tell (customers, staff, stakeholders, shareholders)
- Be able to make sense of the information contained within and across all the stories collected; and
- Be able to design interventions that account for the complex nature of the issue being tackled.
Aligning brands with customers
Let’s take the specific example of aligning brand promises with customer service. Companies spend millions on developing a brand image yet this can be significantly eroded if staff misunderstand the brand and deliver contradictory service.
Take this instance of how customer experience contradicts the brand message: ”Dave … saw an ad by Tweeter that emphasized it’s staff’s “boatload of knowledge”. He needed a DVR and walked into a Tweeter HiFi Buys store wanting to take advantage of that knowledge. “Hi, I want to buy a DVR and accessories if someone can show me how to use it.” He was told, “I don’t know how it’s used, but they’re supposed to be really easy.” Dave says, “The boatload of knowledge just capsized.” (Barlow and Stewart 2004: 49)
The role of storytelling in marketing
Imagine this situation being played out in your organisation hundreds, if not thousands of times. The result is a total undermining of your brand position, a position in which you have invested heavily and which you are pinning the future of the company on. In this case you would go out and collect anecdotes from the staff which they think illustrate on and off-brand service.
These stories are then used in a workshop environment to extract the key themes, values and archetypes. The workshop participant (the organisation’s decision-makers) is forced to gain new perspectives and uses the insights to develop interventions designed to improve the brand to customer service alignment.
Narrative is a powerful technique.
So far marketers are only making use of half its power. Become a storylistener as well as a storyteller and reap the rewards. If you want to find out more, we have been working with an Australian based company that is a world leader in storytelling and story listening – Anecdote.