4 Ways Your Marketing Agency Can Foster Great Ideas
We tend to associate creativity with the poets, musicians and artists of the world. We think of it as something innate (e.g., a painter is creative, an accountant is not). The fact is, though, that everyone has the capacity for creativity. Being creative is not an inborn talent, or something that only comes in flashes of inspiration, but can be developed and harnessed.
This is an especially important concept for marketing and public relations agencies, which need to churn out a constant stream of creative ideas for their clients and to stay competitive. Drew McLellan, CEO of Agency Management Institute, illustrated this in a recent article for Forbes, “It Takes An Agency To Raise A Creative Idea.” He says the art department isn’t the only place where ideas should come from. All agency staff should be encouraged to share their thoughts freely —in fact, ideas from people in “noncreative” roles might even be better, since these professionals have a fresh perspective.
In the article, McLellan suggests four ways agencies can encourage creativity. Here are his tips:
- Encourage learning.
McLellan says that creativity flourishes when old and new knowledge are combined. Rather than diving into something completely foreign, use current expertise as a pathway to something new. He gives the example of an antique collector learning to reupholster vintage furniture. It’s a new skill, but it’s not entirely removed from the collector’s interests and existing knowledge base — and that intersection is where creativity happens.
- Take risks (even small ones).
They say magic happens outside of your comfort zone, but risks don’t need to be huge, life-changing leaps of faith. A risk might just be trying a new experience or doing an everyday activity a little differently. McLellan says this will help with neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to make new connections and change over time. Those new connections are the basis for creativity.
- Always include one risky option.
One of our favorite tips that McLellan offers is to provide clients one “safe” option and one out-of-the-box option. In most cases, clients will choose the safe option. But thinking of those weird, experimental or downright crazy solutions (and not immediately shutting them down during brainstorming sessions) will keep creativity flowing. Plus, if a client does want to go the risky route, it presents a new and exciting challenge.
In part, clients are paying agencies to be creative. When we present some of our risky ideas, we are pushing our clients outside their comfort zone, and I think that’s one of the best ways to push their marketing into new realms.
- Get out of the office.
Sometimes, a change of scenery is all you need to come up with your next great idea. Rarely does inspiration strike while you’re sitting at your desk, turning the same problem over and over again in your head. Our brains need downtime to process, and agency field trips are the perfect way to relax and let the creative juices flow. Trips to the zoo, hiking trails and the movies are a few of the outings McLellan suggests.
At Berbay, this was in part why we created our firm’s cultural camaraderie/well-being program in 2016. We wanted to get people out of the office, not only for a better work-life balance and to have some fun, but also to inspire creativity and stimulate innovative thinking through different experiences. Through this program, we’ve toured historic homes, visited museums and even went to Disneyland. We found ourselves brainstorming ideas while standing in line or admiring Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room at The Broad in Los Angeles. Getting out of your “element” oftentimes sparks the best and brightest ideas.