Overcoming the Obvious: Sparking Creativity Against Marketing Woes
By Bobby Johnson
October 25, 2023
By Bobby Johnson
October 25, 2023
Traditional marketing campaigns may feel reliable, but it’s the unexpected ideas that capture audiences.
From innovative social media campaigns to interactive experiences, we’re examining successful out-of-the-box marketing strategies and how they can solve extremely common marketing and brand problems.
And we’re going to explore why daring to be different may be risky, and how it’s a necessity. As William Faulkner said, “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
Over 80% of marketers say “creative effectiveness” is one of the most influential elements in a campaign’s success.
Why is thinking outside the box important in marketing? It’s like adding an unexpected flavor to a familiar recipe; it piques curiosity, sparks conversations, and leaves a lasting memory.
Who would have ever predicted Oscar Meyer making a moisturizing bologna facemask? Or Crayola and Clinique going in on lipstick? Campaigns like these didn’t come from the usual strategies, and you know someone in that brainstorming session tried to shut the idea down. Some of the best, most attention-grabbing concepts seem bonkers on first thought.
Did anyone think a property called “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” would be a continuous runaway success for nearly 40 years?
Our advice? Lean into bonkers. Embrace the bonk.
We’re not saying every campaign has to combine lunch meat and glamor. However, even just looking past the first idea can solve problems that have plagued brands for months or years.
Marketing campaign not getting traction, clickables going unclicked? Try something a little more playful.
The Solution: Interactive Storytelling
Engage potential customers through immersive storytelling experiences. Interactive videos and augmented reality apps and experiences combine your brand and their emotions on a visceral level.
Let your audience be a part of the story, try something a little out there, and you’ll see increased engagement and interest in your brand.
Struggling with product education, or having difficulty communicating the purpose of a complicated or niche service?
The Creative Solution: Visual Aids
Simplify complex information using infographics, animations, or interactive visualizations. Creative visuals can convey messages more effectively and leave a lasting impression. Turns out, people remember 55% more information when it comes with an image.
Marketing departments have to be strategic with their cash. One good creative idea can save (or make) millions.
The Creative Solution: Crowdsourced Content
Encourage your customers to create content for you. Run contests or campaigns where users can submit creative content, where they’re encouraged to do it. Not only do you get “free” material, you boost your authenticity. Can’t get more real than something made by an individual with no connection to your company.
Standing out in a crowded marketplace is one of the most ideal opportunities for out-of-the-box creative ideas.
The Creative Solution: Experiential Marketing
Create unique and memorable experiences related to your brand. Pop-up shops, themed events, and workshops let customers interact with your brand in unusual and memorable ways, setting you apart from competitors.
For instance, there are a lot of coffee brands. When Café Bustelo wanted to boost their visibility in new markets, we helped them lean into their authenticity to create pop-up cafes celebrating the Latino community and the brand’s heritage.
Unexpected brand partnerships are another way to stand out from the crowd. In fact, over 70% of consumers have positive feelings about co-branded events and campaigns.
Social media is one of the most effective marketing channels, but “going viral” is much more difficult than it sounds during a brainstorming sesh.
The Creative Solution: Micro-Influencer Partnerships
Instead of targeting major influencers, collaborate with micro-influencers who have smaller but highly active audiences. Their recommendations, and their followings, are more attuned to a specific message, leading to a higher chance of the signal actually penetrating.
Micro-influencers also get 60% more engagement than macro-influencers.
“To me thinking outside the box is really about getting rid of the box, challenging the norms, and thinking forward. It’s about taking risks, being curious and ultimately being uncomfortable. When those things meet you have a great idea.” – Farah Brigante, Group Creative Director, Inspira Marketing
But how do marketers learn to think around corners like this? Well, like anything else in life, it takes practice, luck, and a little inspiration.
Here are a few creativity-sparking exercises to help anyone in any field find fresh solutions.
Reverse Thinking. This is one of our favorites. Instead of thinking “how do we get more engagement,” think “how could we get less engagement?” And don’t just play it off as a joke, really examine, write down, and brainstorm the perfect tactics for reducing audience engagement with your material. And it works for any problem. “How do we make our product/service look worse?” or “how could this messaging be more confusing?”
This method has not only the benefit of being a blast, but it often helps highlight “obvious” solutions to problems that everyone missed. Reverse thinking challenges assumptions and received knowledge to find new angles on both problems and solutions.
Six Thinking Hats. This technique, developed by Edward de Bono in the book of the same name, involves looking at a problem from six different perspectives.
Each perspective is represented by a hat (these hats can be real or imaginary). Each hat has a color: blue, white, red, black, yellow, green. Blue is the “big picture,” white is “facts and information,” red is “feelings and emotions,” black is “negative,” yellow is “positive,” green is “new ideas.”
These hats can be worn by a group or a single person, as long as the person is taking the role seriously. When you have the hat on, your job is to personify that perspective when examining a problem.
By consciously switching between these perspectives, teams can explore a problem comprehensively and generate creative solutions. If you have a group, try switching the hats halfway through a session for maximum madness and innovation.
The SCAMPER Technique. SCAMPER stands for “Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to Another Use, Eliminate, and Reverse.”
The idea is everyone involved in the exercise uses these concepts to unblock a discussion, or just to generate fresh ideas. If the problem is “why aren’t we getting more newsletter signups?”, you’d use SCAMPER to break the creative ice. What can we “Substitute” in our process, what existing process can be changed out for something else we have? Can we substitute our signup copy for a copy that’s worked in the past, or copy in the style of a newsletter we love?
Then you go through each step of the SCAMPER process to think beyond the limitations we place on ourselves. Every part of every process bears examining, especially when it isn’t working. SCAMPER helps with that.
Thinking outside the box means embracing unconventional methods and being willing to take risks. By addressing these challenges with innovative solutions, brands can find new and exciting ways to connect with their audience, to make a dent, to stand above the crowd.
Obviously, this is what we do at Inspira. It’s our whole thing. If you’re looking for help generating fresh ideas or just want a different perspective, contact our team today.
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