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July 9, 2013

Does Creativity Matter (In Business)?

Creativity is like the weather; everyone talks about it but no one does anything about it. Boardrooms, seminars, and conferences are full of talk of the need for creative thinking as a way to spark innovation, new product development, and of course sales but, the sad truth is, most business leaders are creatively stunted. Creativity is stifled in a climate of restrictive rules, tight budgets, and an obsession with statistical justification.

I can still remember a well-known successful executive and the owner of a major bird food company who was asked if he collected art; he responded by asking the interviewer, why would anyone buy art when they could buy a bird? In general, there seems to be two types of executives, those who see the world through the prism of their product or service with everything else tangential to it, and those who could care less what they sell as long as the numbers result in maximized profits.

There are the mavericks like Steve Jobs who ignore the focus groups, spread sheets, and pseudo trends foisted on an ill-informed public and business community by desperate media outlets too lazy to deliver and explain real news and information: a business sector that has long since lost its way, along with its integrity.

People Are Irrational Beings

Business leaders are trained to think rationally and responsibly by adhering to a set of financial criteria, a point-of-view that no reasonable person would argue against. But, in a high-tech environment filled with new communication venues, the impact of which few people fully understand, owner managers become susceptible to the deluge of hype promoting the latest pop culture fad, supported by statistical manipulations offered-up by those willing to profit from sophisticatedly-challenged business neophytes. What the business community has lost is the core understanding that all business is about people and people are irrational beings governed not by logic but by primitive hardwired instinct.

People are complex, frustrating, and generally an expensive pain-in-the-ass to deal with, so it’s no wonder business seeks comfort in bean counters and application geeks that promise technical solutions to human problems. Unfortunately that approach is no better than reading tealeaves.

What’s The Big Idea?

In the end, every successful company needs to have a Big Idea; without one you are just another also-ran chasing an imaginary pot-of-gold. And since the vast majority of businesses sell a product or service that is substantially the same as hundreds, if not thousands of other companies, why would anyone buy from you? You may be able to survive on convenience or price-cutting but those tactics cannot be sustained in the long-term by most small businesses.

Small business has a tendency to try to emulate its big brother multinationals, but that too is a mistake. Who says big business is efficient let alone creative? Not anyone who has ever had to deal with the phone or cable company, or the service department of just about any big business. Big companies have big budgets, and can do things and experiment with questionable marketing tactics and venues, and when all else fails they can either dominate or buy it in order to control it. So were does that leave you?

Small business needs to be smarter, it needs to use creativity to develop a Big Idea that can be sustained and promoted, one that will make your cupcake, software, or fashion accessory one that taps into the basic primitive instincts that govern the behavior of each and every person on this planet. If your marketing strategy doesn’t answer one of the three basic survival strategy questions you’ve got a lot of heavy thinking to do.

Creativity Ain’t Easy

Being in the business of finding creative ways to present our clients’ offerings is not easy, and it is not as arbitrary as it may appear when presented on television or in other media. The creative process for a business with all its limitations is not the same as the process of a painter who is basically free to use his or her talent in whatever way, and in whatever direction, he or she wants to go. Business clients must have confidence in the creative contractors they hire or they will sabotage the strategy themselves upon implementation. Big ideas not only need bold creative thinking in their development, they demand bold implementation. Many great ideas fail not because the ideas were wrong or flawed but because the client got scared at the last moment and decided to play it safe or the client was unwilling to be patient and wait for the process and strategy to work. Big ideas require bold implementation, and if you are not prepared to go the whole way, you might as well stick to your same-old-same-old and limp your way to mediocrity or worse.

Twenty-Eight Ways To Answer Three Questions

One of the reasons businesses do not boldly implement big ideas is they do not have confidence in the process their hired marketing hands have used to create it, and instead fall back and rely on the tech and stats to provide creative answers to human psychological imperatives. These lessons have all been learned before but, like much of history, the answers get buried under the weight of pop-culture profiteering that masquerades as progress. The next time someone wants to pitch you on spending a fortune on market research or some social media scheme based on developing a ‘conversation’ with your customers, ask them if he or she has ever heard of the Edsel.

To solve this problem and give our clients the confidence needed to sustain and boldly implement the big ideas we create to deliver their marketing messages, we’ve created an e-book that presents the essence of our process in the form of twenty-eight mind-bending concepts based on the hard-wired core instincts of human nature. Instincts that can be applied to any company, product, or service in order to tap into the emotional triggers that prompt desire and the need to buy. We have put these twenty-eight concepts into an e-book that businesses can use to rethink and re-imagine their marketing strategies.

The reality is businesses need to think creatively, but don’t. Ergo a solution is required, and its not good enough for marketing agencies to just say they’re creative, they must convince clients that creativity answers some need, and that need is the answer to the three basic survival questions that determine human action and behavior. There are many ways to answer those three questions, but before you can take the next step you have to know the questions. Do you?

Jerry Bader is author of “What’s The Big Idea?” available from and Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design and marketing firm that specializes in Web-video marketing campaigns, video websites, and music and sound design. Visit and Contact at or telephone 905-764-1246.