Creative people are the heart and soul of marketing and communications. They have the ability to make raw and bland information interesting. These are people who can visualize, scribe and verbalize compelling stories inspired by little more than a bullet-point product description.
They are gifted contributors to our marketing and PR teams.
Having managed both creative and analytical people over the years has taught me a few things. Both are absolutely essential, complementary puzzle pieces for your strategy.
Because while the analytical mind can find and present data, creatives can imagine how the data evolved and what its potential might be.
They can imagine that which isn’t there.
They can deliver the sort of compelling, audience-driven storytelling that’s mapped out in our Buyer 2.0 Content Strategy Checklist.
For this to happen successfully, though, a different work environment is required.
You might be thinking of a room covered in whiteboards, a large window overlooking mountains, bean bags on the floor, soothing music and boxes filled with colorful markers. While these may be nice to have for some, they are not a requirement.
The requirements are much more human and interpersonal.
What I’ve learned is that what ‘is’ required is patience that allows creativity to blossom. It can’t be rushed and it doesn’t always happen during normal work hours. But with careful planning and guidance, it can meet deadlines and it can have an impact on your revenue.
There is an art to managing creative people that must be learned and mastered before success can be achieved. It starts with leaving ego at the door and recognizing that the people you hire will be/should be more talented than you. Not at everything perhaps, but in the roles you hire them to fill.
Here are four main things I’ve learned from the creatives I’ve had the privilege to work with.
Set your mind to ‘flexible.’
When we hire for creative roles, we look for people who can think out of the box, who aren’t constrained by the same boundaries of possibility that most of us are. And yet, what happens after we hire them is contradictory to all that we valued in them before they showed up for work on day one.
We immediately inform them of the rules and how we’ve always done things. Then we get frustrated when they want to do things outside of the darn box.
Sometimes creative ideas sound really off the wall, or silly, or a waste of time, or way too complicated. But if we listen and ask questions that help the creative process rather than stifle it, wonderful things are created.
Discuss how an idea relates to your business, including what you sell and who you are as a corporate culture.
Conversations may uncover that an idea needs a slightly different approach or is better suited for a different marketing channel. Collaboration can turn off-the-wall ideas into great content.