What does it mean to be creative? Do you have to be a Pablo Picasso or a JK Rowling?
According to the OED online, the definition of creative is: "Inventive, imaginative; of, relating to, displaying, using, or involving imagination or original ideas as well as routine skill or intellect."
In other words, you can be creative in any industry and any endeavour. And that includes, of course, B2B content marketing.
Creative marketing is about thinking outside the box and trying new things; it’s about engaging with your audience in a meaningful and unique way.
It’s easy to associate creativity with “fun” - and often B2C - businesses: think John Lewis’ Christmas adverts, for example. It’s harder to do the same for more "serious" - and usually B2B - companies.
But perhaps as a B2B business we just need to redefine our ideas about creativity.
Writing on Mashable, Sarah Ang says: "Creativity isn’t just for 'creatives'. Rather, it’s a mental tool prized by employers across all fields."
Different types of creativity
There are numerous academic theories about creativity. One of the most famous is the “Four C” model, which was introduced by Ronald Beghetto and James Kaufman. They outlined four types of creativity:
- Mini-c: "transformative learning", involving "personally meaningful interpretations of experiences, actions and insights".
- Little-c: everyday problem solving and creative expression.
- Pro-C: exhibited by people who are professionally or vocationally creative though not necessarily eminent.
- Big-C: creativity considered great in the given field.
The Picassos and Rowlings of the world are Big-C creatives but, as you can see, they are the crème de la crème, located at the extreme on the spectrum.
When it comes to B2B content marketing, we’re most likely in the realm of Little-C. We want to solve our customers’ problems in a creative - and useful - way.
What is creative marketing?
It's not a clearly defined entity. But, ultimately, creative marketing means finding new and interesting ways to do things; things that allow us to reach the people that matter to our business.
Take the example of a company that sells nuts and bolts. That doesn’t sound particularly creative - but lots of people require these products. So the question that the company needs to ask is: how can we connect with those people in a compelling way?
Speaking on his podcast Rough Draft, Demian Farnworth says: "Advertising. Copywriting. Content marketing. Blogging. You need creativity to address your reader’s needs in useful ways."
Everything that we do as B2B marketers should be inspired by creativity - because we are in the business of solving problems.
Putting it into practice
That's all very well in theory - but how can we implement it in practice? The key is to go back to basics. Look in detail at each element of your content marketing and consider whether you have approached it creatively.
- Are your headlines catchy and compelling?
- Do your blog posts tackle relevant issues in an interesting way?
- Have you developed a unique company writing voice?
- Are you using visual communications to illuminate your brand message?
- Have you considered your overall content strategy?
As you can see, successful creative marketing doesn't have to be life-changing - although it can be! It's simply about relieving your target audience's pain in a dynamic and engaging way. Your content has a purpose, so it has to be functional. But it can also be beautiful.
Let's return to Farnworth's podcast again. He concludes: "The moral of this episode is to be creative - use your creative powers - but use it to clarify the message and then judge that message by performance."
And that's the nub of it. Creative marketing isn't about doing something completely "out there". It's about getting more customers and growing and developing your business via creative methods. Carried out effectively, it's the best way to prove that your product or service is the best solution on the market.
Get your creative thinking cap on.