Marketing with Creativity - dummies

By Alexander Hiam

Being creative can make a huge difference in your marketing in more ways than you may think. Not sure how to get started thinking creatively? Check your current level of creativity to see whether you’re maximizing the benefits creative marketing brings. The next sections help you determine whether you’re being as creative as you need to be and whether making creative changes is worthwhile.

Conducting a creativity audit

A creativity audit can help you see whether you’re taking a creative approach as often as you should. Respond to each of the statements in the table as honestly as you can, circling 1 if your answer is “rarely,” 5 if your answer is “frequently,” and the numbers in between if your answer is somewhere between “rarely” and “frequently.”

Marketing Creativity Audit
Marketing Creativity Actions Rating
We make improvements to the selection, design, packaging, or
appearance of our product(s).
1 2 3 4 5
We experiment with prices, discounts, and special offers to
achieve our marketing goals.
1 2 3 4 5
We find new ways to bring our product(s) to customers, making
buying or using the product(s) more convenient or easier for
1 2 3 4 5
We update and improve our brand image and the ways we
communicate that brand image.
1 2 3 4 5
We experiment with creative new ways of communicating with
customers and prospects.
1 2 3 4 5
We improve the look and feel of our sales or marketing
1 2 3 4 5
We listen to customer complaints or objections, and we find
creative ways to turn those complaints into our next business
1 2 3 4 5
We change our marketing message before customers get bored with
1 2 3 4 5
We reach out to new types of customers to try to expand or
improve our customer base.
1 2 3 4 5
We share creative ideas and have freewheeling discussions with
all the people who are involved in marketing our product(s).
1 2 3 4 5

Add up all the numbers you circled to get a score between 10 and 50. Depending on your score, you can rate your marketing creativity as very low, low, medium, or high. You need to be in the medium range at minimum, but preferably in the high range, to gain bottom-line benefits from creativity.

  • 10–19 = very low

  • 20–29 = low

  • 30–39 = medium

  • 40–50 = high

As this audit points out, don’t leave anything alone in marketing. If you can identify any unchanging elements of your sales, service, advertising, mailings, or anything else that touches the customer, you’ve just found your next marketing project, detailed in the following section.

Changing (almost) everything

The smartest move to make when you have a stunning, timeless, classic success in marketing is to leave it alone. But how many of those kinds of concepts can you think of? An orange paper box of Arm and Hammer baking soda. The Apple logo. A Swiss Army Knife. Coca-Cola in a classic bottle.

You can’t easily add many more items to this list, and it’s likely your ad campaign hasn’t generated concepts that are in this list of timeless classics. If you’re not changing many of the aspects of your marketing program, here’s a really tough question: Why not?

The most common reason marketers give for not changing their technique is that it takes too much effort. Nobody got around to thinking about it. That’s not much of a reason to leave well enough alone.

Mess with everything. In fact, why not make a quick list of the aspects of your marketing program that nobody has looked at or tried to improve for the last year or two? Jot down three to six aspects of your program that you tend to take for granted (such as your brochures, web home page, or price list). Tada! You’ve just made your creative to-do list.

Are you working on the marketing for a start-up? If so, you still have to make that to-do list, but you get to backseat-drive for the established leaders in your new market. What do other marketers ignore or fail to change and improve?

Perhaps they always mail the same kinds of catalogs to the same lists on the same schedule throughout the year (in which case, why not send yours two weeks sooner in a larger, more attractive format, with a link to special offers on your website?).

Or maybe the industry you’re entering always uses the web to support its sales but not as its lead marketing medium (you can try reversing that formula). Whatever the constants, list them now. Your list shows you the assumptions that you must question if you really want to become the next industry leader.