Do you ever find yourself lacking creativity in your marketing? Let’s face it, it’s always easier to follow the leader, or the masses rather than come up with some form of originality. The great thing about mavericks such as Steve Jobs or Richard Branson, is that they show us what the power of creative thinking can do! Of course, the challenge lies in figuring out how to tap into your inner creative genius. Here are some great tips that can hopefully help inspire you to think outside the box.
- Look outside your industry. I love the story my friend and peer Troy White once told me about a lobster ranch in Maine. Instead of competing against all the other lobster ranches to get local business they adopted an unheard model of membership. That’s right you bought a membership and a share of your very own lobster trap. You could receive updates on how your trap was doing and of course you received your share of lobsters. Now of course, memberships aren’t new….think time shares as a great parallel. What made this is so original was integrating this great experience into a new market.
- Create services for your products or products from your services. Are you limiting what you offer as a small business? A great creative way to not only wow your customers but to continue to engage them is by offering that complimentary service or experience to a product, or a product to a service/experience. Look at Starbucks. Do you really think it’s their coffee that made them successful or was it the atmosphere and flexibility around the product offerings that make it so popular? Of course you have to look at Apple as well. Think about the commercials you have seen lately. Do they focus on the features of the iPhone or more about the apps you can use to make your life easier, more productive or just plain old fun? This same principle can apply to a small business. Remember these companies started out small too!
- Throw in the Kitchen Sink. I love this simple yet effective concept from Martha Beck. If you are trying to solve a problem and can`t come up with a creative solution, stop thinking about the problem. Instead engage in random activities. Read blog posts on the arts, business and medicine. Take your dog for a walk and then start knitting that sweater. When you get those great epiphanies they usually come when you start focusing on something else.
- Get outside feedback. I recall hearing Malcolm Gladwell speak and someone asked him how he came up with his brilliant ideas. He stated that quite frankly his original ideas weren`t all that good. But when we share our ideas with others and get their insight, our ideas become great. The problem in business is that we are scared to share our ideas in fear that someone will inherit them. Get over it and start asking for feedback and turn your ideas into gold.
While many of the examples or individuals mentioned here are famous or have gone on to achieve considerable success, this doesn`t mean that you have to hit a creative ball right out of the park. But I do know this. If you stop trying to think out of the box, your business is highly unlikely to get to that next level. Success is about growth and growth is about change and change comes from adapting a different approach. So it`s time to put on that thinking cap.