When digital marketers look for inspiration, there is a whole host of ground-breaking case studies, industry news, and technological innovations for them to turn to. But as marketing continues to expand its capabilities with such intricate and complex processes, the lines of communication between marketing teams and agencies are becoming more complicated. How can marketers deliver creative solutions in a way which encourages inspiration, and communicates with all the relevant decision makers? Figaro Digital spoke to Nathan Fulwood, Strategy Director at CreateFuture, to find out how this agency is challenging the preconceptions of creative inspiration, and how marketers should be experimenting with their processes to break down barriers.
Is This Your Card?
Marketers have been going to great lengths to deliver campaigns which are aligned to their brand values, communicate their personality, and grab the consumer’s attention. But consumers, especially the technically savvy digital natives, are wise to the tricks marketers use to grab their attention, and are perhaps not as receptive to these campaigns as brands might wish. But why is this? “The word tricks is pivotal here,” says Fulwood. “As soon as you know how a trick is done, it loses its appeal, its magic.” And consumers have seen so much repetition in their newsfeeds and inboxes that previously successful methods are no longer paying off. “There are ‘quick win’ methods that marketers have pulled out to grab the consumer’s attention, but these get uncomfortable very quickly when the user finds that there’s no real value.”
A Longer Lifespan
With the average person now having so much control over the sort of content they wish to consume, brands must be offering something valuable in exchange for the their time. Great content, personalised interaction or excellent customer service all fall into this category. And as Fulwood points out, this is nothing new. “To say that consumers are bored of content, or bored of traditional methods that have been around for a long time isn’t true. A TV or radio advert done well is still going to be effective; it will add value, be well received, and deliver results.” It’s true that consumers become a little misty-eyed and nostalgic when remembering their favourite marketing campaigns, whether that’s Heineken’s “Water in Majorca” parody, Old Spice’s elegant “Man your man could smell like”, or the now eponymous Alexsandr the Meerkat. All three of these creatives have the staying power that keeps them being conversation pieces long after the campaign has ended. “We have a tendency as marketers to always be looking for the next big thing, thinking that we need to reinvent it, or that the customer must be bored of it, and it’s not always true,” says Fulwood. “A great piece of content can sit in a market and deliver results for six months, 12 months, 18 months, and maybe even increase in value as its awareness grows.”
It’s clear then that creativity continues to sit at the core of the successful content, regardless of the technical stack or budget behind the scenes. But how can marketers boost their creativity? “We make great use of the Design Sprint process and methodology,” says Fulwood. “It’s fun and it’s collaborative between internal and external teams. We have a lot of ideas and experience that we can bring in, and we work closely with a wide range of internal team members who can bring in a wider range of influences.” The Sprint method sees marketers spend an intense, interactive week tackling a challenge, and involving a variety of skill sets and departments in the process. With an idea being designed, prototyped and tested with real customers in just five days, it’s also efficient, avoids time and energy being wasted on multiple pitches or solutions, eradicates miscommunication, and makes sure everyone feels fully invested in the end result. “Collaboration means that everyone is excited to implement those ideas and take them forward,” continues Fulwood. “They have ownership of them, they’ve authored them, they have a vested interest in making sure that an idea or a strategy becomes reality.”
Keeping It Fresh
Creativity is a difficult trait to sustain over a drawn-out planning and realisation process. So what advice does Fulwood have to avoid burnout and keep your creative juices as fresh as can be? “The main point is to focus. We focus on a problem for a week, which is hugely liberating, and something that most people don’t generally get to do.” The multi-faceted nature of the industry can have marketers working on a broad array of tasks in a single day, and Fulwood suggests that this can hamper the energy and motivation of creativity. “You might have 10 tasks on your to-do list, and you have to shift your mind-set every time you switch task. We try to take our clients out of their day to day and spend a week on the problem. If you can sit, and spend some real time thinking on a problem, it’s invigorating. It gives people energy, and they make great progress because they’re allowed to focus and are supported in focussing on the solution.”
By creating solutions with the brand at the centre, marketers can be sure that the end solution is one that works for everyone, meets the disparate goals and KPIs of the whole team, and gives the end consumer the product or service that they will truly benefit from. “We can be quite blinkered in our industry,” says Fulwood. “But really we just need to make sure that we are creating ideas that are new and fresh and actually add value to the customers. Think about how you can apply the expertise of your wider team in a different way, look at what didn’t work last time, and how you can improve it. These are the things that will motivate you and your team to do a better job each time.”