A 9 Step Guide On How To Be Creative

An objective approach to creativity, an oxymoron… perhaps.
And I don't deny that some people are more creative than others.

That said, when you run a marketing firm you are perpetually encountering moments where you need to be “creative.”  Unfortunately, you don’t bolt up from a dead sleep with the inklings of an idea like Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign or Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man In The World” every night.

Sometimes you are forced to be creative, when the creativity isn’t there. This is amplified about 280X in our industry, alternative investments, and that’s why I write. Our industry needs to be more creative.  Why? Because investors, especially institutional investors, are anything but inspired these days.  I am hoping this blog motivates someone sitting at a hedge fund somewhere to do something different, to be more creative. And I figured what better way to get a hedge fund marketer to be more creative than to give her or him a step-by-step objective process.

I have learned that you can only stare at a blank Word document hoping that divine intervention will intercede for so long. Eventually you need to challenge yourself. Over the years, I started to recognize common exercises I would go through when searching for new ideas. This is a list of things I do:

1. Look beyond the borders of your industry.

We market private equity funds and hedge funds, however, I rarely look within the industry for new ideas. I tend to watch what the big apparel and tech companies are doing. They are masters at creating engaging content.

2. As it relates to the given situation ask yourself, “What are we really doing?” or, if client orientated, “What are they really doing.” 

This line of questioning tends to take you one level deeper.  This is where good ideas are born.

3. Thesaurus.com.

No explanation needed.

4. Don’t force it.

Admittedly, I am not very good at this. I tend to sit at stare at my computer until a deep rage builds… because that is productive.  It is actually amazing at what your subconscious can achieve. If you are pondering a problem or looking for an idea, walk away from it for a bit.

5. Think in a different color.

For example, the financial world is very much blue and grey.  What would the industry look like if it were florescent pink? Different images come to mind?  That could be the start of something.

6. Google “World’s Top Brands” and pick the one that you want to emulate.

If I am working with an exclusive hedge fund, I choose an exclusive brand, Hermes, etc., and I ask myself how they would approach the situation.  Read the companies mission statement or vision statement. This is a great way to find a different way to think about something.

7. Go work out.

This is distinctively different than stepping away.  I can honestly say most of my really good ideas have happened while exercising. This may not be universal, however, enhanced blood flow to the brain surely does something.

8. Ask your colleagues or your client, “What bother’s you most about your current marketing.”

All you need to do now is fix it.

9. Write something that you don’t believe your firm, or your client’s firm would ever approve.

I do this all the time.  Again, it tends to set you off in a direction you otherwise would never go.  As soon as you take the rules away you become more creative.

 There are probably others, however, these are the 9 that I have recorded over the years.  If you are looking for creative inspiration start at the top and go through the list. I will be surprised if you reach the bottom without coming up with an idea.

By Kyle Dunn