As a member of the Marketing Roundtable presented by Ann Arbor SPARK, I was recently invited to speak to a group of entrepreneurs and business professionals at one of the organization’s monthly programs. I chose this opportunity to share some of what I’ve learned and observed after 20 years on the creative and strategy side of marketing communications, and dispel a few myths about creativity and the creative process.

Here are a few take-away points from the presentation.

  • There is no monopoly on creativity. Of course we think of artists, writers, musicians, and poets as creative. But creativity and innovation are at work every day driving progress in a wide range of fields. You too are creative, and you can become more creative by working at it.
  • Creativity counts in business. In a recent survey by IBM of more than 1500 CEOs from around the world, creativity ranked as one of the most essential skills for navigating today’s complex world. That explains why innovation and creativity seem to be hot topics in business today. (If you’re in marketing, sales, or business development, you know the importance of creativity and innovation in business.)
  • Big ideas trump big budgets. A common misconception is that doing “great creative” is only for big companies with big money. Of course you have to spend something to market, but that’s part of the cost of doing business (I hope). I believe that if you’re working with a smaller budget, it’s even more essential that you work smarter and be more creative than the other guys.
  • Brand building takes time. Think of some of the world’s most iconic brands – brands at the level you aspire to for your business. (We often hear names like Apple, Starbucks, Nike, and BMW in our brand workshops.) What do they all have in common? A professional, consistent, quality brand established at all touch points. Remember, these brands didn’t pop up overnight. And while you don’t need an astronomical marketing budget to set your business apart from the rest, let’s not kid ourselves, these brands didn’t achieve top-of-mind status with no marketing budget. Invest in the time and resources to build your brand right.
  • Seek professional help. As an entrepreneur, don’t feel you have to take your business to the next level single-handedly. Aspire to grow your business to a point where you can hire others to strengthen your weaknesses. If the role of salesperson isn’t your thing, bring on a sales professional. If your time is better spent engineering than it is designing and marketing, seek the help of a professional designer or marketing consultant that you click with.
  • Have fun innovating. Artists and “creative” types create because it’s in our blood; it’s what we do. Similarly, most entrepreneurs and business builders I know enjoy the challenge of bringing a product or business idea to reality and helping them grow or perhaps selling them off and moving on to the next idea. So, rather than get wrapped up in today’s industry buzz words that hype “innovating” and “disrupting” the marketplace, I say enjoy doing what you do and keep “progressing.” After all, progress is creativity.

Walk through the complete presentation PowerPoint here.

Learn more about the Marketing Roundtable presented by Ann Arbor SPARK here.

Posted by Paul Koch on July 30, 2012