HBR: What Creativity in Marketing Looks Like Today

“The changes happening in consumer behavior, technology, and media are redefining the nature of creativity in marketing. Do these changing roles require a new way of thinking about creativity in marketing?” Below is a blog from the Harvard Business Review by Mark Bonchek and Cara France:

What Creativity in Marketing Looks Like Today

What makes marketing creative? Is it more imagination or innovation? Is a creative marketer more artist or entrepreneur? Historically, the term “marketing creative” has been associated with the words and pictures that go into ad campaigns. But marketing, like other corporate functions, has become more complex and rigorous. Marketers need to master data analytics, customer experience, and product design. Do these changing roles require a new way of thinking about creativity in marketing?

To explore this question, we interviewed senior marketing executives across dozens of top brands. We asked them for examples of creativity in marketing that go beyond ad campaigns and deliver tangible value to the business. Their stories — and the five wider trends they reflect — help illustrate what it means to be a creative marketer today.

  1. Create with the customer, not just for the customer

Everyone likes to talk about being “customer-centric.” But too often this means taking better aim with targeted campaigns. Customers today are not just consumers; they are also creators, developing content and ideas — and encountering challenges — right along with you. Creativity in marketing requires working with customers right from the start to weave their experiences with your efforts to expand your company’s reach.

For example, Intuit’s marketing team spends time with self-employed people in their homes and offices to immerse themselves in the customer’s world. Through this research, they identified a pain point of tracking vehicle gas mileage. Based on these marketing insights, Intuit created a new feature within its app that combines location data, Google maps, and the user’s calendar to automatically track mileage and simplify year-end tax planning.

Brocade, a data and network solutions provider, created a “customer first” program by identifying their top 200 customers, who account for 80% of their sales. They worked with these customers to understand their sources of satisfaction and identify areas of strengths and weakness. Brocade then worked with sales teams to create and deliver customized packages outlining what Brocade heard is working or not working, and what they would do about those findings. Later, Brocade followed up with these customers to report on progress against these objectives. The results? Brocade’s Net Promoter Score went from 50 (already a best in class score) to 62 (one of the highest B2B scores on record) within 18 months.

  1. Invest in the end-to-end experience

Every marketer believes the customer experience is important. But most marketers only focus on the parts of that experience under their direct control. Creative marketers take a broader view and pay attention to the entire customer experience from end to end. This includes the product, the buying process, the ability to provide support, and customer relationships over time. That takes time and resources – and it also requires bringing creative thinking to unfamiliar problems.

Kaiser Permanente believes that as health care becomes more consumer-oriented, the digital experience becomes a key differentiator. The marketing team instituted a welcome program to help improve the experience for new plan members. Members are guided on how to register for an online member portal, which provides access to email your doctor, refill prescriptions, make appointments, and more. The welcome program required coordination with many areas of the business. As a result of this program, about 60% of new members register within the first six months. These members are 2.6 times more likely to stay with Kaiser Permanente two years later.

Like many retailers, Macy’s has traditionally spent 85% of its marketing budget on driving sales. Each outbound communication is measured individually for immediate ROI. However, recently they began to take a more holistic approach, focusing on lifetime value and their most profitable segment, the “fashionable spender.” This group looks across the business to gather behind-the-scenes information on the runway, newest clothing lines, and aspirational fashion content. The metrics also changed. Macy’s started evaluating engagement per customer across time and platform instead of per marketing message per day. The results? In the last year, customers in the top decile segment increased digital engagement by 15%, cross shopping by 11% and sales by 8%.

  1. Turn everyone into an advocate

In a fragmented media and social landscape, marketers can no longer reach their goals for awareness and reputation just through paid media and PR. People are the new channel. The way to amplify impact is by inspiring creativity in others. Treat everyone as an extension of your marketing team: employees, partners, and even customers.

Plum Organics gives each employee business cards with coupons attached. While shopping, all employees are encouraged to observe consumers shopping the baby category. When appropriate, they ask a few questions about shoppers’ baby food preferences and share business cards with coupons for free products as a gesture of appreciation.

For Equinix, surveys revealed that a third of employees were not confident explaining its company story. The company introduced an internal ambassador program for its more than 6,000 employees. This program gives employees across all disciplines and levels tools to educate them on the company, its culture, products and services, and how they solve its customer’s needs. More than 20% of employees took the training online or in workshops in the first few months of the program, and employee submissions to its sales lead and job candidate referral programs were up 43% and 19% respectively.

Old Navy has traditionally dedicated their media budget to TV, particularly around back to school. However, over the past few years, they’ve focused on digital content to engage kids around positive life experiences and giving back. Through this approach, the 2016 #MySquadContest led to 32,000 kids sharing their “squads” of friends for a chance to win an epic day with their favorite influencer, creating 3 million video views, a 60% increase in social conversation about @OldNavy, and a 600% increased likelihood of recommending Old Navy to a friend (versus those that viewed TV ads only). In addition, the program led to record breaking donations for their partner, The Boys & Girls Club.

  1. Bring creativity to measurement

The measurability of digital engagement means we can now know exactly what’s working and not working. This gives marketing an opportunity to measure and manage itself in new ways. In the past, marketing measured success by sticking to budgets and winning creative awards. Today, the ability to measure data and adjust strategies in real-time enables marketing to prove its value to the business in entirely new ways.

Cisco has created a real-time, online dashboard where the entire marketing organization can look at performance. The leadership team conducts a weekly evaluation to assess, “Is what we’re doing working?” This analysis can be done across different digital initiatives, geographies, channels, or even individual pieces of content. The result is an ability to quickly adjust and re-allocate resources.

Zscaler, a cloud-based security platform for businesses, created a Value Management Office. The Office helps each client define, quantify, and track their unique business goals associated with Zscaler implementation. Zscaler and their clients hold each other accountable to specific, measurable, time-based results.

OpenTable recently launched a companion app just for restaurants to make better use of the data they’ve been collecting through their reservation system. Restauranteurs can now get a handle on their business right from their smartphone, allowing them to easily answer questions like “How did your last shift perform?” The app can tell them if they are running light on bookings, and soon they’ll be able to activate marketing campaigns to increase same day reservations. More than 50% of restaurant customers on OpenTable’s cloud-based service are already using the app, visiting an average of 9 times a day, 7 days a week.

  1. Think like a startup

In the past, marketers needed to be effective managers, setting goals well in advance and then working within budget to achieve those goals. Today, creative marketers need to operate more like entrepreneurs, continuously adjusting to sustain “product/market fit.”

The start-up Checkr represents a trend we are seeing more of in the Bay Area in particular. Marketers are adopting the business practices of entrepreneurs such as lean startup and agile development. For its background check solution, Checkr wasn’t getting the results it wanted from traditional sales and marketing tactics as it expanded into new market segments. They realized they had to think beyond marketing as promoting an existing product. Adopting an agile method of customer testing and rapid iteration, they worked with engineering to rethink the product and bring a “minimum viable product” to market for these new buyers. As a result of this integrated, agile approach, the company easily hit some early 2017 revenue targets with conversion rates that are four times what is traditionally seen in the industry.

 

The changes happening in consumer behavior, technology, and media are redefining the nature of creativity in marketing. The measure of marketing success isn’t the input, whether that’s the quality of a piece of content or a campaign, but rather the value of the output, whether that’s revenue, loyalty, or advocacy. Marketers of the past thought like artists, managers, and promoters. Today’s marketers need to push themselves to think more like innovators and entrepreneurs — creating enterprise value by engaging the whole organization, looking out for the entire customer experience, using data to make decisions, and measuring effectiveness based on business results.

 

 

Original Page: https://hbr.org/2017/03/what-creativity-in-marketing-looks-like-today

 

 

FOCUS: How Gritty Leaders Articulate Purpose

The Four Virtues of a Leader: Navigating the Hero’s Journey Through Risk to Results by Eric Kaufmann is a quick and enjoyable read. He talks about four key questions to keep you on track: What am I creating? What am I avoiding? What am I sustaining? What am I yielding? Below is an excerpt from the book:

FOCUSFour Virtues.jpg

Purpose is the focusing element we need to understand and develop among the building blocks of grit. Grit is a forward-facing principle. Running away from something isn’t grit; it’s fear. While fear provides a strong motivation to keep running and moving, it drives you from behind as it pushes you along. Grit, on the other hand, magnetizes you toward a long-term objective. Clarity of purpose is a critical element for successfully developing and enhancing your grittiness; this can be something as broad as your life purpose, or a more narrowly defined sense of purpose for your work, team, or project.

Purpose draws from your focus, from your answer to “What am I creating?” In formulating your focus, you keep attention toward the horizon, and in so doing forward becomes obvious and easy to press toward. Leadership is a constant vigilance toward the future, toward what’s coming, as well as to the present, to what’s happening now. Long-term goals feed grit. We persevere when the future plays an active role in moment-to-moment decision making.

I’ve seen a common pattern among people who are most effective at remaining on purpose. I’ve coined the acronym FOCUS as a thinking guide that reflects how gritty leaders articulate purpose. FOCUS is a way to concentrate your efforts forward and bring forth the elements that empower grit:

F-Fulfilling. Is your goal fulfilling to you? How does this long-term goal feed your spirit? How does it make you a better person? Beyond the things that we have to do that we find challenging and difficult, how is this work feeding your soul? My job is challenging. It takes lots of attention and energy. Yet I grow and learn and make extremely rich and meaningful connections. I can press through the challenges because my work is fulfilling. My grit-my perseverance for striving to improve professionally-is fed by the fulfillment of being of service, of touching people’s lives in a meaningful way.

O-Optimistic. My daughter has a glass on her desk half filled with water. She keeps it there because she wants to be gritty, and gritty folks choose to look at the glass as half full. It’s difficult to be gritty when you’re pessimistic about your goal in particular or future in general. You can learn and practice optimism, and the optimistic aspect of FOCUS isn’t just looking at the world positively, but looking forward and being engaged by the future. Being focused on the goal means that you direct yourself toward it; being optimistic about your goal means that you look forward to it. It’s nearly impossible to persevere toward something that you dread.

C-Challenging. Believe it or not, if the purpose is too easy or too ordinary, we lose interest in it. It’s paradoxical that grit-stamina and determination in the face of difficulty-is activated by the very presence of challenge and difficulty. Being challenged has a stimulating and energizing effect when the goal is also fulfilling; you strengthen grit when you know that you’re working toward something fulfilling and challenging.

U-Urgent. To stay on track with your purpose, it has to entail a sense of urgency. Urgency keeps your intention top of mind and your attention focused. This might sound counterintuitive, as grit refers to passion and perseverance for long-term goals. Yet if the long-term goal has no sense of urgency, then it simply languishes in the “would-be-nice-someday” category. When urgency turns to stress, though, it actually consumes the ability to be gritty. What builds purpose for true grit is your continued attention to the urgency of the goal while maintaining a rational detachment from the strain and stress of the deadline.

S-Specific. The final component of FOCUS is that the goal is specific; it’s restricted. During strategic planning, I refer to strategy as the “art of exclusion.” Being specific means honing in on one defined outcome and ignoring the other possibilities and temptations. Losing weight through diet and exercise can take a while, often longer than we wish, and saying, “I want to lose weight” is fairly useless. But saying “I want to weigh 140 pounds” is specific. “Hiring good talent” is vague; “hiring three experienced trainers” is specific.

Harvey Mackay: The 7 Cs of Success

Below is a blog post from Harvey Mackay . Mackay’s Moral: Some people succeed because they are destined to, but most people because they are determined to.

The 7 Cs of Success

On the road to success, you may take a few detours, hit some roadblocks and arrive at a different place than you’d planned. I’m still on my journey, and I’m offering you my map for smooth sailing, traveling the Seven Cs of Success.

Clarity: 80 percent of success comes from being clear about who you are, what you believe in and what you want. But you must remain committed to what you want and make sure those around you understand what you’re hoping to accomplish.

A young mathematician was commissioned during wartime as captain of a submarine. Eager to impress his crew and to stress how important it is to strictly observe all safety procedures, the young captain called them all together for a meeting. His instructions went like this:

“I have developed a simple method that you would all do well to learn. Every day, count the number of times the submarine has dived since you boarded. Add to this the number of times it has surfaced. If the sum you arrive at is not an even number—don’t open the hatches.”

Competence: You can’t climb to the next rung on the ladder until you are excellent at what you do now.

Just remember two more things: 1) The person who knows “how” will always have a job, and 2) the person who knows “why” will always be the boss.

Constraints: 80 percent of all obstacles to success come from within. Find out what is constraining you or your company and deal with it.

The Gallup Organization conducted a survey on why quality is difficult to achieve. The greatest percentage listed: financial constraints. Often our lives and careers are shaped by kind of surroundings we place ourselves in and the challenges we give ourselves.

Consider, for example, the farmer who won a blue ribbon at the county fair. His prize entry? A huge radish the exact shape and size of a quart milk bottle. Asked how he got the radish to look just like a quart milk bottle, the farmer replied, “It was easy. I got the seed growing and then put it into the milk bottle. It had nowhere else to go.”

Concentration: The ability to focus on one thing single-mindedly and see it through until it’s done is critical to success.

Great athletes are known for their concentration and focus. As golf great Ben Hogan once stood over a crucial putt, a loud train whistle suddenly blared in the distance. After he had sunk the putt, someone asked Hogan if the train whistle had bothered him.

“What whistle?” Hogan replied.

And let’s not forget Yankee great and America’s favorite philosopher Yogi Berra, who said “You can’t think and hit the ball at the same time.

Creativity: Be open to ideas from many sources. Surround yourself with creative people. Creativity needs to be exercised like a muscle: If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

Studies indicate that, between ages 5 and 17, there is an extreme drop in the creativity level in both male and female students. As you grow older, your creativity level decreases proportionally. The good news is that this trend is reversible, as long as you keep challenging yourself. Consider Grandma Moses, who didn’t start painting until age 80 and went on to produce more than 1,500 works of art.

Courage: Most in demand and least in supply, courage is the willingness to do the things you know are right. Courage, contrary to popular belief, is not the absence of fear. Courage is having the heart to act in spite of fear. Don’t be afraid to use it.

Continuous learning: Set aside some time every day, every week and every month to improve yourself. To stay miles ahead of the competition, read trade publications or books, or listen to business CDs during your commute to and from work. Go back to school and take additional classes, or join groups or organizations… Whatever it may be, just never stop learning.

Good Producers and Good Managers — Creativity, Inc.

In the book Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull, he talks about how to communicate to people on different levels. Below is an excerpt about Katherine Sarafian on how she manages her directs.

 

Good producers–and good managers–don’t dictate from on high. They reach out, they listen, they wrangle, coax, Creativity, Inc.and cajole. And their mental models of their jobs reflect that. Katherine Sarafian another Pixar producer, credits the clinical psychologist (Dr.) Taibi Kahler with giving her a helpful way of visualizing her role. “One of Kahler’s big teachings is about meeting people where they are, Katherine says, referring to what Kahler calls the Process Communication Model, which compares being a manager to taking the elevator from floor to floor in a big building. “It makes sense to look at every personality as a condominium,” Katherine says. “People live on different floors and enjoy different views.” Those on the upper floors may sit out on their balconies; those on the ground floor may lounge on their patios. Regardless, to communicate effectively with them all, you must meet them where they live. “The most talented members of Pixar’s workforce-whether they’re directors, producers, production staff, artists, whatever — are able to take the elevator to whatever floor and meet each person based on what they need in the moment and how they like to communicate. One person may need to spew and vent for twenty minutes about why something doesn’t look right before we can move in and focus on the details. Another person may be all about, ‘I can’t make these deadlines unless you give me this particular thing that I need.’ I always think of my job as moving between floors, up and down, all day long.”

When she’s not imagining herself in an elevator, Katherine pretends she’s a shepherd guiding a flock of sheep. Like Lindsey, she spends some time assessing the situation, figuring out the best way to guide her flock. “I’m going to lose a few sheep over the hill, and I have to go collect them,” she says. “I’m going to have to run to the front at times, and I’m going to have to stay back at times. And somewhere in the middle of the flock, there is going to be a bunch of stuff going on that I can’t even see. And while I’m looking for the sheep that are lost, something else is going to happen that I’m not aiming my attention at. Also, I’m not entirely sure where we’re going. Over the hill? Back to the barn? Eventually, I know we will get there, but it can be very, very slow. You know, a car crosses the road, and the sheep are all in the way. I’m looking at my watch going, ‘Oh, my God, sheep, move already!’ But the sheep are going to move how they move, and we can try to control them as best we can, but what we really want to do is pay attention to the general direction they’re heading and try to steer a little bit.”

Notice how each of these models contains so many of the themes we’ve talked about so far: the need to keep fear in its place, the need for balance, the need to make decisions (but also to admit fallibility), and the need to feel that progress is being made. What’s important, I think, as you construct the mental model that works best for you, is to be thoughtful about the problems it is helping you to solve.

I’ve always been intrigued, for example, by the way that many people use the analogy of a train to describe their companies. Massive and powerful, the train moves inexorably down the tracks, over mountains and across vast plains, through the densest fog and darkest night. When things go wrong, we talk of getting “derailed” and of experiencing a “train wreck.” And I’ve heard people refer to Pixar’s production group as a finely tuned locomotive that they would lovethe chance to drive. What interests me is the number of people who believe that they have the ability to drive the train and who think that this is the power position-that driving the train is the way to shape their companies’ futures. The truth is, it’s not. Driving the train doesn’t set its course. The real job is laying the track.

Creating Boundaries for Growth and Success

You're Not the Boss of Me

In life and work, there are many boundaries, personal ones,interpersonal ones and systemic ones.  And there are also organizational boundaries.  These are the ones that intrigue me most because they are the most difficult to manage and yet can be just the thing that makes growth and success possible.

The trouble with organizational boundaries though, is that so often they are defined by rules and procedures that have a tendency to limit creative ability and collaborative effort.  That can be very stifling for both the organization and most certainly for the people who work in it.  In my mind, boundaries built on rules and procedures alone make an organization look a bit like this:

It has a rather claustrophobic feeling about it, doesn’t it? And, its walls are solid and unbending.  In an atmosphere like this, I can imagine how hard it must be to engage people in creative…

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How To Sharpen Your Problem Solving Skills

Below is a blog post from John Morgan. How are your problems solving skills?

How To Sharpen Your Problem Solving Skills Problem Solving Skills

Every single successful person I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting is highly skilled in problem solving. Your creativity in solving your problems is an essential factor in determining your level of success.

Depending on how big the challenges are that come your way, there’s a certain level of panic that kicks in. This is a problem because panic leads to a closed mind. An open mind is critical to creative problem solving.

So how can you improve your problem solving skills?

I’m so glad you asked, otherwise this post would have been awkward.

You have to change your approach to solving problems. Forget about how you’ve done it in the past. Wrap your mind around a new paradigm that will instantly change your results…

Stop looking for the right answer and start looking for the right question.

What are some different ways you can look at the problem you face? Don’t ask a close minded question that won’t lead to a strong outcome. For example, why is this happening to me? is NOT a question that will solve whatever problem you’re facing.

Instead, ask questions such as what can I gain from this? or how can I use this to my advantage?

When you start asking yourself different questions, you immediately start thinking of different answers. The more questions you can ask the better. Multiple questions from different perspectives will cause you to create solutions you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

The best part of this is that the questions you ask yourself do not have to be complex. In fact, the more simple the better. Write down a problem you’re facing in your life or your business.

Then list out some simple questions that will cause you to think of this issue from a new perspective.

Here’s some examples right off the top of my head:

– What is the problem?
– What assumptions am I making about this?
– How can I get more information about this?
– How will I know it’s no longer a problem?
– What will happen if I ignore it?
– How can I improve because of this?
– What are the good things about this problem?
– Is it really a problem?
– Who can help me solve it?
– Why is this important?

Those are simple questions that can get you started. I’d love to see what questions you come up with! (You can let me know in the comments below). Remember to ask yourself questions that force you to look at the issue from a different perspective.

Instead of focusing on the right answer, focus on the right questions. We too often spend time looking for the right answer to the wrong question.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I enjoyed reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Below is an excerpt from the book. Also, take the Quiet Quiz: Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert? (Click on the link).

If you’re a manager, remember that one third to one half of your workforce is probably introverted, whether they appear that way or not. Think twice about how you design your organization’s office space. Don’t expect introverts to get jazzed up about open office plans or, for that matter, lunchtime birthday parties or team-building retreats. Make the most of introverts’ strengths-these are the people who can help you think deeply, strategize, solve complex problems, and spot canaries in your coal mine.

Also, remember the dangers of the New Groupthink. If it’s creativity you’re after, ask your employees to solve problems alone before sharing their ideas. If you want the wisdom of the crowd, gather it electronically, or in writing, and make sure people can’t see each other’s ideas until everyone’s had a chance to contribute. Face-to-face contact is important because it builds trust, but group dynamics contain unavoidable impediments to creative thinking. Arrange for people to interact one-on-one and in small, casual groups. Don’t mistake assertiveness or eloquence for good ideas. If you have a proactive work force (and I hope you do), remember that they may perform better under an introverted leader than under an extroverted or charismatic one.

Whoever you are, bear in mind that appearance is not reality. Some people act like extroverts, but the effort costs them in energy, authenticity, and even physical health. Others seem aloof or self-contained, but their inner landscapes are rich and full of drama. So the next time you see a person with a composed face and a soft voice, remember that inside her mind she might be solving an equation, composing a sonnet, designing a hat. She might, that is, be deploying the powers of quiet.

We know from myths and fairy tales that there are many different kinds of powers in this world. One child is given a light saber, another a wizard’s education. The trick is not to amass all the different kinds of available power, but to use well the kind you’ve been granted. Introverts are offered keys to private gardens full of riches. To possess such a key is to tumble like Alice down her rabbit hole. She didn’t choose to go to Wonderland–but she made of it an adventure that was fresh and fantastic and very much her own.

Lewis Carroll was an introvert, too, by the way. Without him, there would be no Alice in Wonderland. And by now, this shouldn’t surprise us.