A couple of weeks I talked about creativity and what it means in a business environment. More specifically when it comes to digital marketing and public relations which I refer to as marketing communication.
From a business perspective, you employ creativity when you solve a problem. This, of course, is easier said than done. It’s one thing to say you need a creative solution but it’s a completely different thing to do it.
For creativity to work requires a certain level of expertise. If you don’t have the expertise, it will be hard not only to be creative but to also harness it into something productive.
This is especially true in a business environment where a solution is tying to business objectives. The question becomes, “How can you produce creative solutions that lead to business results?”
Similarities and Differences
I played drums for many years and my goal was to be a musician. Not everybody ends up in band selling millions of albums and playing a sold-out tour. For most musicians to work on a regular basis means knowing how to play many different musical styles such as Swing, Pop, R&B, Hip-Hop, Rock, Funk, and Latin. Each has its own idiosyncrasies and you have to know them to play them.
However, I found there were many similarities. There are some things in music that are the same regardless of the style. In many ways, they inform each other.
This isn’t all that much different than marketing communication. There are many pieces to it. Everything from digital ads, media relations, content marketing, SEO, reputation management, social media, and native advertising to name a few.
Like different music styles, they have their idiosyncrasies. If they are used in the wrong way, like a piece of music, they just won’t work. It will be obvious to anybody who comes in contact with it.
It starts by knowing the different options along with the pros, cons, and similarities and differences.
Know What You Need to Know
The difference between success and failure is often a thin line. You don’t have to have a staff of 200 with an unlimited budget to get results. You do need to know what you are doing.
I’m not talking about becoming the foremost expert on everything that is encompassed by marketing communication. That’s unrealistic. Becoming an expert involves focusing on something specific which won’t help a business in this case. It does require some learning.
There are two ways to learn. The first is through information. The second is through experience. Both take some time but information is all around us which makes it easier.
Knowing how things work is key. It takes time to accumulate this knowledge but it’s important because it’s the foundation. Without a solid foundation, nothing else matters.
In music, the foundation is the rhythm section. It doesn’t matter how amazing the song is if the foundation isn’t there everything will fall apart. It’s the same with your marketing communication efforts. You can come up with the most creative and amazing campaign ever but if you don’t have the knowledge to execute, it doesn’t matter. It will fall flat.
Something such as content marketing doesn’t work in a vacuum. You may make Stephen King look like an amateur when it comes to the written word but if nobody reads the post it doesn’t matter.
When I say content marketing it includes social media marketing and search engine optimization. It could also include search engine marketing. They aren’t separate pieces in this case because you can’t do content marketing without the marketing. If you don’t know anything about these topics, your content marketing will fail.
Once the foundation is in place you will learn by doing. Through experience, you will learn to optimize and improve your marketing communication efforts.
Foundational knowledge can only take you so far. Application often presents challenges that foundational knowledge doesn’t address because it’s beyond its scope.
Always Be Learning
Sometimes what you know changes. This is why you always have to be learning.
The early years of rock ‘n roll were heavily influenced by Jazz and R&B. You can hear the swing influence on the early rock records. Over a period of time though the feel changed. The swing influence at best, became a much smaller part of the equation when it came it came to rock music.
Marketing communication is like this too. There is so much to know and it is always changing.
Twenty years ago search engine optimization was all about a keyword. As time has gone on a single keyword is no longer impactful. Keywords are still part of the equation but there are many other things that now impact search engine optimization. The problem is that I run into a lot of people who are still operating as though its twenty years ago.
As the world around us changes so do the tools we have at hand. The social media companies and search engines are always tweaking their algorithms. This impacts a big chunk of what you might be doing and if you don’t adjust you will find your efforts showing a smaller return on investment.
How Does all this Help Creativity
One of the most frustrating things that I experienced as a drummer was hearing something in my head that I didn’t have the skill to play. You need to have the skills to execute your creative vision. This isn’t just a drumming thing or a music thing. It applies to everything.
With more knowledge, you will find that new ideas and connections will present themselves to you because you’ve expanded your knowledge base.
Terry Bozzio is a drummer, best known for his time with Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, and Missing Persons who decided to focus on melodic solo drum music. The drums are known as a rhythmic instrument but he was exploring melodies on it and composing songs that were specifically for the drum set. Who would think that was even possible? Outside Bozzio, nobody but he had a high level of skill on the drumset and as a musician. He saw it as a logical step (check him out here).
When you know the rules of the game you can start to manipulate them and in turn push things farther than anybody knows is possible.
Other times, you will be able to make connections that you didn’t know were there such as how media relations impacts search engine optimization.
The pieces of what we now know as the PESO Model were there and being used but it wasn’t defined until somebody with a lot of knowledge came along and put them together (Thank you, Gini Dietrich). All of a sudden public relations and marketing were changed.
Business and creativity can work hand in hand if you have enough expertise. It starts with understanding and will grow through continual learning.
This will help you become more creative and be able to harness to meet your business goals.