Turn creativity into strategy for success

One of my favourite pastimes is visiting the “Fail Blog”. This cheeky website started an online phenomenon by cataloguing moments of failure from around the world. The “fails” on the site include people falling over, crashing cars or just getting things wrong in a humorous way.

Ruth Mortimer
Ruth Mortimer

Especially popular is the “marketing fail”, where people laugh at campaigns or ads that have either been horribly ineffectual, unintentionally hilarious or downright offensive. Avoiding a “marketing fail” has to be pretty high on any company’s agenda, but perhaps even more important than checking your campaign does not end up being ridiculed online is ensuring that it does not finish up as a commercial fail for the bottom line.

So how do you ensure that your most creative ideas are rooted in financial sense? This week’s cover story (page 16) sets out a new model for marketers to follow in its “Return on Ideas” report, developed by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the Direct Marketing Association.

“An idea is only a good idea if you make money out of it”

David Thorp, director of research at the CIM, does not mince his words: “An idea is only a good idea if you make money out of it. I’m not convinced that’s the first criteria when marketers come up with ideas for projects.”

His sentiments are backed up by research from agency The Partners, seen exclusively by Marketing Week. This data reveals that 96% of business leaders cite creativity as integral to business success and recovery from the recession, yet 44% say they lack the skills and commitment to deliver it.

It appears there is a divide between appreciating how important creativity is and wielding it in a way that helps turn ideas into income. While the executives in The Partners’ research rate creativity higher than any other factor for contributing to business success, just 23% have made it integral to their business strategy.

If creativity is so vital for success, why on earth doesn’t it gain support at a corporate level? Professor Robert Shaw, who is the author of the “Return on Ideas” report, suggests that creativity is very much stuck in the marketing department. He calls for greater inter-department co-operation, particularly with finance, to ensure that creative moments have a commercial outcome.

Ultimately, it is only taking marketing ideas to a wider corporate audience within businesses that will ensure success. If everybody has a stake in how they are used financially and operationally, creative thoughts become larger than ideas; they become strategies. Which happily means I have far less chance of finding them next time I’m browsing the Fail Blog.

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