Classical marketing campaigns are mostly massive in nature, like the Napoleonic Wars. By using brute force and heavenly leaning on resources (people, money, gun power, logistics, management skills) they ty to win. Basically, both parties are in the same game, each trying to use better but more-of-the-same tactics.
An alternative for the not so powerful is to turn to guerrilla warfare. Poor but highly dedicated small teams use asymmetric tactics to surprise and confuse the enemy, thereby using maximal creativity.
But what is creative thinking?
Creative thinking is not doing more-of-the-same
(in the example: applying straight lines), but breaking away from that, for instance by using curved or broken lines.
However, it is not easy to break away from standard patterns.
Also, any time we break a standard way of thinking, a behaviour or new idea, bystanders will react with a rejection: this is impossible, it can’t work, it is too costly, complex, difficult or risky. Every time a negative is used, the thinking stops.
Creative marketing is escaping from the standard approaches that are used by big companies. But how to get new ideas?
Normally we think with the speed of light to the first satisfying idea
By that, we miss interesting alternatives along the way
With a Provocative Operation we break away from mainstream thinking. The Provocative Operation (moving outside the mainstream to the green spot) is a attempt to escape standard thinking in order to arrive at an original idea.
For instance: Apple sells our (paper)notebook together with their notebooks.
We will discuss four creative thinking techniques to escape standard thinking:
- Taken for Granted
- The Provocation
- Use Resources
Taken for Granted
Make a list of taken for granted things of a product, at least 15. That is what is normal, assumed to be, standard, generally accepted or obvious. Then we escape by abandon it or modify it.
It is taken for granted that a restaurant has a venue and that the guests are dressed.
A restaurant does not have a venue. That could lead to the idea to set up a picnic service for romantic people.
Guests are naked. That could lead to the idea of a nudist restaurant.
To get creative marketing ideas about for instance an Eco bottle. What is obvious of a bottle (form, materials, filling, getting it, getting rid of it, etc.). Then modify (remove, amplify, change, combine, etc).
Try to escape negatives by redefining criticism by “this is interesting” and “under what circumstances might this have value”, or “could we create value out of this?”. The aim of the Provocation is to move forward the thinking towards an idea that works.
Sandwiches will make themselves
Senor citizens, refugees and children donate by age for using supporting services.
We tend to solve problems by using known and standard solutions. For instance: for attaching something to the ceiling we automatically think of a ladder. But only after we give ourselves the explicit thinking order to use what is at hand, we come up with alternatives: using tables, making a tower of bodies, using the walls, making a long pole.
This creativity technique is also called: think inside the box, meaning no adding additional resources
Make a list of props (things) and persons in your immediate surroundings. Think up in what ways they could contribute or add value.
A petrol company wanted to create more brand loyalty. That is not simple, for most drivers petrol is just petrol. One of the company’s resources is the car driver. By getting under the skin of the driver, they discovered that getting a parking place in town is an important value for the customer. So they set up a cooperation with parking garages. For the drivers, the petrol company and the parking garage a win-win situation. Together they delivered an integrated value.
Could we design integrated values for the customers of a fruit selling shop?
Defining the thinking task before beginning an idea generation session is one of the most neglected stages.
Most starting questions are far too broad defined. For instance. In What Ways Might We (IWWMW) get more clients.
However, it is more helpful to break it down into smaller topics, as “IWWMW add more value to our product”,“IWWMW get more clients with help of our existing clients”, “IWWMW use other product to sell ours. Redefine at least 15 IWWMW’s in order to escape from the obvious ones and get a really creative challenge.
Avoid formulating IWWMW’s becoming too small. In that case, the IWWMW will just be a concrete solution and will not give you any direction for further searching new ideas.
Then make the challenge less boring and sexier. That is: make them more imaginative, outreaching, challenging, interesting. For instance: sex up “IWWMW get more clients by using our existing clients”.“Our clients collect so much organic waste that we have to export it”.
Then add a constraint: people, money, time, channels.
Finally construct a propelling question, a question that drives forward the effort for creative thinking by using a bold ambition and a significant restriction. For instance: “let’s get 50 more clients by firing all account managers”.
Again, the technique of the creative focus is to force oneself outside common thinking. The technique on the focus can be applied to all of the four of the marketing mix:
- functionality, packing and service of the Product
- policies about paying and Price
- sales, advertisements, Publicity
- and Promotion logistics, storage, inventory and selling channels
Creative Marketing is all about standing out of your competitors, being perceived as a Blue Fish, at no costs.