Marketing is energy, and good creative marketing is filled with energy that is clear and mindful of the intent behind the actions and messaging. Remove resistance to the process… and create from a specific context that will resonate with the person likely to use your product or service.

I’ve had many clients in which it was very obvious that it pained them to deal with their company’s creative marketing needs and every year they are faced with the challenge of rising to the occasion: an occasion that they neither enjoy, or like. In a sense, I am glad: I am hired to bring creative marketing solutions to companies. On the other hand, creative energy is attracted to and thrives in environments—and with people—that are willing to participate and empower others in the creative process.

 

Resistance.

 

My wife is the poster girl of creative marketing anxiety. She is super smart, capable, and interested in her company’s success, yet is prone to virtually short circuiting if asked to provide content for creative marketing ideas, unique selling propositions, and aggressive solutions to the on slot of competition challenging her real estate company in the quickly changing. She is not alone. It is commonplace for small business owners and corporate executives to be overwhelmed with their day-to-day responsibilities, and the idea of engaging in a “creative project,” something they feel certain will be a negative challenge…is nothing short of painful. It is like asking a chubby guy to take a Pilates class. Ironically, the guy with the big stomach would most be benefitted by working on his “core strength”, yet as it is the most under-exercised part of his body, he least wants to use it. Get the point, most needed, least used.

 

So how should the analytical overworked businessperson invite the uneasy waters of creative flow to wash over them? The first thing to do is remove the idea that you are not creative. Who told you that? Was it your mother when you excitedly brought her your crayon masterpiece as a two year old, or your teacher in 6th grade art class? The creative process often is linked to two-dimensional art…what about the other dimensions? So, is Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking creative enough for you? How about Steve Jobs, who by the way was not a software designer? How about our great religious philosophers throughout the ages: Shakyamuni (Buddha), Jesus of Nazareth, and Muhammad. The lists of brilliant creative people who could not draw or paint are enormous. So go deep within yourself for a moment and ask this simple question: Am I creative? And if the answer comes back “no”, ask yourself sincerely, “Why do you say that?”

 

If you are still stuck and feel an intense tidal wave of thoughts like this is stupid and a total waste of my time, there is a great probability that you are resistant to the idea of being creative and that you have decided, “I am simply not creative and that is that…” No, that is your insistence brought on by resistance, combined with the great likely hood that you like to be “in control” and when someone or something begins to challenge that, you react. How many GREAT marketing ideas have been cut-off at the proverbial knees because the person “in charge” didn’t like the idea…or, perhaps didn’t understand it…or didn’t take the time to really consider it…or, was simply too resistant?

 

What causes that anxiety?

 

I call it “resistant gardener syndrome.” For example, have you ever decided to do yard work, but absolutely didn’t want to. You drag your body through the flower beds resisting, and resenting, every weed, dead leaf, and struggling plant. The entire time you are saying to yourself, “I should do this more, I have really let this go…I don’t feel like dealing with this %&*@!

 

Of course, your higher self knows that the wise gardener makes a choice to cultivate beauty and is willing to do what it takes to achieve it. Ah, a very tall order is beauty!

There is work to be done, plant and soil knowledge to acquire, change and growth, life, and ultimately—death. Perhaps underlying our resistance to be creative is the sub-conscious fear of death. The certainty that now matter what we do to affect certain outcomes…there will be death. Yes, so true with business and markets. Consider the booming business of the whaling industry, buffalo hides, and riverboats.  You may have no control, your ideas may not work, and you might lose money…Big deal! Currently, in media we see our country’s oldest newspapers lives being threatened, magazines, and radio stations seriously struggling to survive. But life goes on and just as you plant, groom, water, prepare the soil of your garden, delight in new plants and mourn those that die, so will our gardens go on…if, we accept the process and embrace the creative process. If you don’t plant the seeds or plants, they most certainly will never grow. Over time, you learn what works and what does not in your garden. It is within a context. All things creative are within a context.

 

Context.

 

Creative marketing should be done in a certain context. That is to say, who is this for? What is important to them? What do they feel? How do they think? If we superimpose our way of thinking or preferences onto a market place, we may be eliminating a tremendous opportunity to grow our business or sphere of influence. With that said, I always try to find the “universal truth or appeal” and then refine the messaging to specific market segments. As much as our business society likes to fragment humanity into market segments to sell products and services, we should not lose sight of the fact that we are all human beings. One of your goals this year could be to take the time to create programs and marketing communication that is relevant in a specific context. For example, I am adding content to my blog that I feel will actually help my clients and those interested in creating meaningful marketing collateral. That is my intent.

 

Intent.

 

Not all human beings are equally informed, but most—I find— have an innate ability to sense when they are in the presence of something false, or insincere. Have you ever met a kid, a dog, or an adult, and you couldn’t quite put your finger on it, but you loved them immediately. There was something going on behind what you saw, a depth, a feeling, a state of consciousness that resonated with you…not the jewelry they wore, or the other outward decorations—that is the “intent” in advertising and marketing. People can feel it!

 

Sometimes we call that the “sub-text”. What you have included to convey your message or brand distinction that is not the most overt or obvious, but still participates in your message. Not what you say, but maybe a photograph that is filled with the feeling of what you want to convey, in context. For example, I did was a marketing manager for an oncology group in Austin for nine years. The physicians I represented, excellent men with tremendous skills and equally big hearts, wanted me to know that they were equally concerned with their patients emotional and spiritual wellbeing and saw them as essential in treating the “whole patient.” As an advertising guy, I couldn’t very well say, “These guys allow room for God in your care,” but I could and did use photography and an artists painting to convey a sub-text that conveyed that very thing…it wasn’t expressed in words, but it was in the sun-rise that I commissioned from an impressionist painter who’s brother died of cancer, conveying a sub-textual message of hope! It was expressed with portraits in an improvisational journalistic style of shooting with a top-notch photographer, Kirk R. Tuck, who was able to capture “compassionate care” in action. By the way, you can’t capture “compassionate care” in a photograph if it isn’t happening! In other words, sub-text is a critical component of creative marketing…if it is real, and that is easy to talk about and hard to capture in a manner that has artistic distinction and relevance to your client’s product or service. That is where passion for unique and original expression, with quality and meaning comes in…don’t’ panic, you don’t have to figure that part out…that is why we have creative agencies!

 

Creative Approach.

 

No need to get anxious…just some questions to ask yourself. If you want to begin the year with more creative energy and have that expressed in your company or personal projects, it might be nice to get honest with yourself about what you want.

 

Ask yourself the following:

 

1. Do I love what I am doing? If the answer is no, you might want to begin directing your energy toward what you really want…then, all the creative energy that flows naturally when people love what they do begins to flow and magic happens. Maybe you don’t have to make radical changes: maybe clean your office and get some new art, find new associates and work partners to bring more exciting results or collaborative efforts. Maybe you don’t have to be the one in “control”…maybe giving someone else creative control frees you up to do what gives you energy!

 

2. Am I doing business the same way that I have done it for many years, and expecting new results…have I actually tried a new approach, new attitude, or new methods?

 

We have all heard about the tenacity of successful people in history: Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers, Helen Keller, Steve Jobs, (and countless others of all races and nationalities). This is not the stuff of fiction. It always takes tremendous effort and dedication to do something in a new, or truly meaningful way. Sometimes it takes years of failure to find success. If it is in your heart and you really want to find it, you will…but if it isn’t working—change something! If you empty a pitcher full of sour water, you allow the room for it to be replaced with something refreshing!

 

3. Find your internal joy and excitement about what you do…express who you or your company is from that place, and the creative will flow…connect with people who have positive energy and who you feel can see you, really see you, and help you to reach your goal.

 

You didn’t begin doing what you do because you hate it. At some point you probably found it exciting…find it again! If it isn’t giving you energy and excitement, change it. The universe has been doing that for billions of years…the galaxies are being recycled and the energy is being used in new ways, death and re-birth. Remember the Renaissance in Italy? Renaissance means a “re-birth.” They took the wisdom of the ancient Greeks and they re-invigorated the ideas with new scientific thinking and commercial trade. Now is the time for you to have your own personal renaissance, or re-birth!

 

In conclusion, I think for you to enter the New Year with the right spirit of re-birth, we must first all agree that resistance is not our friend. In place of being stuck in the old habits and attitudes of the past, fully dusting our self-doubting, fearful, and overworked brains…making way for a new personal mantra, “I can, and I will!”

Find excitement and new creative contexts and give energy, be open to all the powerful creative results that you’re capable of generating in a new spirit of re-birth…carpe diem, onward and upward!