Is Creativity Counterintuitive to the Business Community?
On a basic instinctual level, our whole purpose for life as human beings is to survive and thrive. What that means has been different throughout time. In the modern world, survival is living happily; enjoying the company of friends and family; finding a job–any job these days–hopefully one that challenges us professionally without causing too much stress; and being able to put enough food on the table to feed our kids. So, if our instinct is to survive and hopefully thrive, then it’s completely counterintuitive to human behavior to voluntarily jump off a cliff.
The pursuit of truly creative ideas is just like hurdling oneself over the edge of a cliff and free falling. And, it’s as counterintuitive to self-preservation, professionally speaking, as is BASE Jumping from a 10,000 foot mountain peak.
Creativity Is Not for the Weak-Willed
Not for the squeamish, the task of developing innovative and inspired marketing concepts can be considered dangerous. It instills downright terror in the hearts of many a brand manager or marketing pro. Some don’t even attempt it, preferring to maintain the status quo. Others would rather someone else first take the risk; choosing later to read about competitor successes in industry pubs like AdAge, HOW or Communication Arts.
Like BASE Jumping, the pursuit of creative innovation can be dangerous, costly, and challenging, but also entertaining, exhilarating and supremely rewarding when properly executed.
1. It’s Inherently Risky
It’s common, among the unadventurous, to avoid taking their lives into their own hands and leaping from a mountaintop. Developing innovative creative can be a risky undertaking, especially for less-enterprising marketers. Pushing the envelope on creativity crosses the line of comfort for many. Doing so entails potentially risking your professional career, often giving even the most seasoned brand manager night sweats. When considering stepping off the creative ledge, it’s important to have a professional creative team that understands your business and is invested in your brand. To develop truly innovative ideas, it’s crucial to have partners who have the ability to lead you safely through the process and appropriately deliver on your brand promise.
2. It Can Be an Expensive Undertaking
BASE jumping is by no means cheap. Those awesome looking wingsuits that make you look like Rocky the Flying Squirrel can set you back several thousand dollars alone. Then there’s parachutes. Head gear. Travel costs and more. Developing inspired creative, executing graphic design, building web apps, and securing media placements has the potential of busting your budget.
Creative development is considered a luxury for many businesses, primarily the smaller ones. Others question the inherent value of forking over money to pay for it. But in order for a brand to remain relevant in a world where we’re bombarded by innovative creative, it’s more necessity than luxury. You must invest the appropriate amount of dollars and time into developing creative for your brand. Otherwise your message is likely to be drowned out by the media cacophony.
Budgeting for creative development is frequently low on the priority list for small businesses. It’s just the opposite for the big brands. If nothing else, that should tell you if you seek to control the message, you first need to be heard.
3. It’s a Challenge Getting There
You don’t just wake up, get out of bed and leap from El Capitan. Unless you spent the prior night on the face of a rock wall, which is another challenge altogether. And you don’t get outstanding creative “Click, Bang, Zoom.” The process takes time. There’s planning. Collection of consumer insight. Strategy sessions. Creative brainstorms. Establishment of goals. Definition of measurement criteria. And more. The creative process is like preparing for a long climb up a shear rock wall. It requires planning. You need the right tools. You need to plan a careful and thoughtful path. Work your way to the jump point. Psych yourself up. And then run toward the precipice and let fly. It’s the “fly” part of the process that everyone is most excited about, but it can’t be rushed.
4. Don’t Chicken out at Last Minute
Even the most experienced BASE Jumpers still experience a twinge of fear, no matter how fleeting, just before letting go. It’s normal to question whether actually jumping into the chasm facing them is a good idea after all. Once you’re there, the prospect of decidedly sprinting toward the edge and off, beyond the comfort zone is something most creative teams struggle with. The secret is not to question a decision already made. Remember, your gut once told you this path was a great idea. And, you’ve done your due diligence in planning. But now, your gut is telling you the opposite. That ain’t your gut talking. That’s fear. Don’t listen, or it’ll take you back to the comfort of your cushy sofa of mediocrity.
5. The Final Results are Exhilarating
Then there’s the payoff. The rush of free fall. The satisfaction of landing on both feet with your head held high. Your goals are realized. Customers are storming your website. The telephone rings off the hook with qualified leads. Your products are flying off the shelves. You get that nod from your boss. Or even better, your competitors. You took the risk, and your efforts paid off. Truly relevant, innovative creative generates measurable results. And, a job well done is truly an exhilarating experience.
Giving Credit for Inspiring This Post
Giving credit where it’s due, inspiration for this post came from Camp 4 Collective and Jimmy Chin whose innovative talents have resulted in this amazing video shot in Yosemite National Park while on assignment for National Geographic. And also to our friend Thomas Marzano for originally sharing the video link with us on Twitter. You can follow Thomas yourself @ThomasMarzano.