Step away from a mundane view of digital marketing and dream a little bigger! We share how Creative Confidence inspires a wider and more empowering view of the role of a Digital Marketer. Learn 3 target points and action-steps to take your daily work from good to great.
If you are new to digital marketing, you might be focused on following directions and learning the ropes from more experienced colleagues and seniors.
We often are waiting for some time in the future when we can step up.
Here at Hatch, we believe that everyone, no matter how inexperienced they might be, has the potential to make a big impact. One of the ways in which we realise this potential is through Creative Confidence.
Tom and David Kelley coined this term in their book Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. David is the founder of IDEO, the innovation company that created products that many of us find iconic: such as Apple’s first mouse. He also led the establishment of d.school, a design thinking institute based in Stanford University. Tom is a leading innovation speaker who works with organisations to tap their creative potential.
They expand the definition of ‘creativity’, and offer systematic, practical steps to spark confidence in being creative. Over their years in the innovation space, they discovered the huge potential of creativity that lies inside every one of us, and their book aims to unlock that.
“At its core, creative confidence is about believing in your ability to create change in the world around you”
- Tom and David Kelley
According to the Kelley brothers, we apply our creativity whenever there is a need to create new ideas, solutions or approaches. It’s “using your imagination to create something new in the world”.
The relevance of creativity goes beyond just artistic fields. Digital marketers, chefs, teachers, engineers, biologists, tour guides, caregivers, you name it. Being confident in one's creative ability is important to people from all walks of life!
What difference does it make when a digital marketer has creative confidence?
Applying creativity to the work of digital marketing can unlock innovative ways of marketing, and help us create more efficient marketing tactics. It pushes us to be proactive in changing processes for the better.
Creative Confidence can be built up as we discover the creativity that lies within us. In this article, we’ll be covering actionable tips for you to grow your creative muscles!
Empathy: Step into the shoes of another
“Deep empathy for people makes our observations powerful sources of inspiration”
- Tom and David Kelley
People naturally approach problems with their own set of assumptions on what the key issues could be. We then imagine what we must create, and convince ourselves that our solution would (obviously) be the best.
For Digital Marketers, this might sound like, “I saw this other business put up this eye-catching ad. We should try it!” or perhaps “Maybe we should fix our workflow problems with a social media calendar.”
This limits the range of our creative thinking to only what we know. It blocks us from potentially creating something that will truly matter to our stakeholders. The core issue could be something entirely out of our radar.
Who better to consult than the customers and stakeholders of the problem you are trying to solve?
Digital marketers can build a deeper understanding of our customers by talking to those who have firsthand information about your customers. These could be your sales team, account managers, customer support team, or the person who runs social media analytics.
Focusing on the people we are marketing to and creating for helps us uncover insights and opportunities for truly creative solutions that we might not have seen before.
Seedly was trying to drive downloads of their personal finance app. According to WithContent, Ming Feng, Head of Content, and his team wanted to “write about whatever we thought Singaporeans might be interested in.” So they set up a Facebook group of about 3,000 or so people to “get a feel of what the ground was interested in.”
Over time, they observed what attracted the most attention in the group and Ming Feng explains, “We realized that Singaporeans liked...lifestyle and finance hacks that can help them save money.” So they wrote and released articles such as “Which Singapore telco plan is the best for you?” and “Should you use cash or CPF to pay for your home?”
Setting aside the conventional route of using ads to grow their user base, Seedly holds a reader-centric view of their content to this day. It has grown to be the go-to place for people in Singapore to find trustworthy information and discuss all things personal finance. Over two years, Seedly has grown their blog from zero to 600,000 visits, a big number for a brand’s blog!
Holding the customer at the center of marketing campaigns opens our perspective to what they value and respond best to.
A user-centric approach can be used in internal settings too.
For example, the marketing manager might not have good visibility on the performance of the organisation’s social media channels. The digital marketer could have a chat with the manager to find out their core needs. What they want to know more about? How often do they need updates? What is this information used for?
Using these insights, the solution that the team implements can turn out to be more effective than one that the digital marketer formulated themselves.
So slow down, try to find out the ‘Why’. Explore what it feels like to be in their shoes.
Ideate: Explore the possibilities
In 1950, Psychologist J.P. Guilford coined the terms ‘Convergent thinking’ and ‘Divergent thinking’, to describe the contrasting cognitive approaches that people use.
We think in a convergent way when we hone down to the core needs of the user, or analyse a set of solutions to find the most feasible one. This is used to find the best solutions at the end of an ideation session.
However, for the exploratory phase of generating ideas, divergent thinking is best used. This is when we generate ideas, imagine possibilities, and stretch the limits of our creativity. The gist of it is that we first open up the possibilities, then narrow down our choices after.
Language is a powerful shaper of the cognitive mode that we are in. Business consultant Min Basadur says, “(People use) language that can inhibit creativity instead of encouraging it...“People may start out asking, ‘How can we do this,’ or ‘How should we do that? But as soon as you start using words like can and should, you’re implying judgment: Can we really do it? And should we?”
Considering the feasibility of ideas is valuable at later stages, but using convergent thinking to explore ideas prematurely closes off some routes. Perhaps an idea that seems out-of-this-world can inspire another great idea that is a bit more feasible.
Instead, use “How might we…?” to set up the frame for innovative thinking. Google, Facebook and IDEO use the same three words to jumpstart the creativity process.
Basadur explained to Harvard Business Review that this question style was highly effective when a P&G team he was working with tried to come up with a product to beat their competitor’s Irish Spring Soap in the mid-1970s.
After getting stuck around copycat concepts for bars with similar coloured stripes as Irish Spring, he “ had them asking a series of more ambitious HMW questions, culminating with: 'How might we create a more refreshing soap of our own?'”
"That opened the creative floodgates and, over the next few hours, Basadur says, there were hundreds of ideas generated for possible refreshment bars -- with the team eventually converging around a theme of finding refreshment at the seacoast. And out of that came a coastal blue-and-white striped bar named...Coast.”
Consciously tap into a divergent thinking style when coming up with solutions and widen your frame of possibilities!
Open your funnel of new ideas
Open up your funnel of new ideas by cultivating fresh sources of information! When was the last time you listened to new kinds of music? Watched a unique documentary? Tried using a new mobile app? Engage deeply with the new stimuli and let yourself wonder how it might be relevant to a problem you’re working on.
“Another place to find inspiration is to look for new ideas from different cultures or different kinds of organisations. This kind of cross-pollination between departments, companies, and industries can be particularly useful for individuals who have been working at the same job for a while.” writes the Kelley brothers.
Dr. Goldman, the pediatric ICU chief, and surgeon Martin Elliot got inspiration from watching a Formula One race. “They noticed striking similarities between patient handovers at their hospital and the interchange of tasks at a racing pit stop.” The 20-member pitstop crew worked with precision to send a car racing off in seven seconds. That blew the doctors away.
They were so inspired that they invited members of a race car team to share their process, and even hired a professional to refine the hospital handover process.
According to Wall Street Journal, “After the changes, the average number of technical errors per handover fell 42% and ‘information handover omissions’ fell 49%.”
Building our input of new ideas exposes us to perspectives and solutions beyond our personal experience. Feed your creative brain with food for innovation!
Creativity is a strength within us waiting to be harnessed
In Tom and David Kelley’s personal experience of conducting workshops, they have found that everyone is creative. Across all backgrounds, this is something inherent in us all. From engineers, to business owners, to literature students, and even lawyers, Kelley found that they just needed to give their creativity a chance to be discovered.
Give yourself the chance to be brilliant!
When approaching problems, start from the human perspective of your user. Aim to empathise with their difficulties, joys, and needs. As you ideate, practice divergent thinking and use language to support a creative process, such as by asking “How might we…?”
In parallel with that, seek and take in new ideas from all sorts of places. Embed the habit of reading, watching, and exploring new things in your daily life.
Creative digital marketers are able to flip conventional problems on their head and unlock new ways of marketing. They have the potential to change the way their teams work.
Cultivating creative confidence adds a people-centric mindset to digital marketers. On top of the technical skills, we also become more engaged, thinking, and proactive people.
Dream a little bigger!