Continuing the conversation on creativity in Sarasota, the HuB brings in kick-ass creative, Marty Kohr to give us his perspective on powering creativity. 

Who the heck is Marty Kohr? 

Marty Kohr is one of the creatives behind the Budweiser “Whassup!” campaign. Budweiser was in the midst of trying to figure out how to keep their public image from turning in to that of “your dad’s beer”. Budweiser knew that in order to truly keep your brand relevant over the years, you have to continually reconsider your brand strategy in an attempt to appeal to the next generation of buyers while still retaining your existing audience.

Budweiser was having a problem with the perception of the younger demographic and turned to Marty and the team at DDB to turn that around. Their objective when trying to solve this problem for Budweiser was to present: “people having a good time with good friends, today!”. Budweiser launched the campaign in 2000 and quickly turned in to “our most valuable idea ever”.

The purpose of Marty’s entire presentation was to inspire creativity and define the creative process as he sees it. This is the second time I hear someone tell me to not be scared to share an idea. That sharing, testing and proving your idea are vital to the development of a really good idea. You see apparently ideas are a dime a dozen. What sets a good idea apart from the others is the persons ability to visualize, strategize, validate and propagate the idea. Just having the idea is no longer good enough and keeping it to yourself is like never asking out your secret crush. You might not get hurt but you probably won’t get a date either.

What is creativity? 

“Creativity is the art of assembling familiar objects in an interestingly unfamiliar combination.” See what I did there? I’m pretty sure that I just took a couple of pieces of what he was saying and spun them together into a philosophical quote and claimed credit for it. See, I was taking notes but he talks a lot faster than I type so instead of giving you guys a miss-quote from someone famous, I decided to come up with my own. That my friends is creativity in action! I think!

Creativity is pretty much everywhere, think about the clever commercials you see on television now a days and how short a time frame they have to try to capture your attention. Marty broke down RedBull’s recent space jump and other creative marketing efforts. RedBull understands the concept of creating their own channel and reaching your audience directly. They understand that the buzz generated by their crazy, dare-devil events will bring them all the publicity they can handle. Heck, Discovery channel even did a 2.5 hour special documenting everything about the space jump, you can’t really ask for more publicity than that. (I am not saying RedBull and discovery didn’t have a deal worked out to cover the event but people all over the world tuned in to watch that jump, if only for 10 minutes. What would that kind of advertising be worth?)

Creativity was compared to connecting the dots. From Einstein to Steve Jobs, Marty dropped quote after quote about connecting the dots, rearranging the pieces and finding new ways to solve old problems as being the foundation for creativity. Nothing hit closer to home than when he started talking about people who are truly creative were able to be creative for one of two reasons.

  • They have either experienced more things

Or

  • They have thought more about their experiences than others.

I can relate because not only do have I had a diverse set of experience to draw from, I analyze each situation I encounter from multiple perspectives hoping to completely understand the events, good or bad. It all really started to help me make sense of my own individual creative process and no matter how detailed my article, I doubt I will be able to recreate that level of introspective thought in you as a reader. Ill give it my best thought.

Enough rambling already, how do you power creativity? 

  • Be curious – in order to unleash your true creativity you need to embrace your curiosity. Be curious about everything. Question your surroundings, question your reality, and then question your questions. Watch and understand the people around you as well as their behaviors and interactions. Be curious about nature, travel often and explore new things. There is nothing like experiencing something new to spark the creative process. Look for simplicity in everything you do. Simplicity is the truest form of sophistication.
  • Define the objective – You need to know your market. Are you building a category or are you trying to capture market share. The way you approach and tackle a problem will differ based on this information. Maybe you are defending against the competition. Are you trying to inspire people? Defining your objective is vital in developing your good idea in to something great.
  • Gather information – take notes, sketch, capture ideas. You want to understand everything about your consumer and how they interact with your brand. You want to know why they do what they do, the where when and why of your consumer as well as knowing where they get their information. How do your consumers and competitors alike connect, interact. You need to observe and interpret their behaviors. The consumer can not tell you what they need. You have to dig in, get the information you need and turn it in to an idea that they can love and and appreciate. You need to “skate where the puck will be” as in understand trends, patterns and shifts in your industry in order to stay ahead of them. Monitor the buzz with tools like Google buzz or other online analytic tools. So often the answer to your current solution can be found through exploring the past and looking for a new way to apply a concept that has worked for you in the past. Look where no one else is looking and gather more dots than anyone else. The more dots you gather the more likely you are to find an opportunity to connect them.
  • Identify many solutions – No matter how good you think your first solution is, keep coming up with answers to the problem. How many different ways it can be solved? Don’t stop looking for the needle in a hay stack when you find the first needle. The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of them. When you get a great idea, get it out of the way so that it is not overpowering the other ideas around us. Think about the number of stars you can see during the day. None right? it is because they are all being hidden by the light of the sun. Once the sun goes down though you can see all the other stars in the sky. Often times developing an idea can be the same way. You have to get rid of the obvious solutions in order for the other ideas to be able to shine through. Here are a few other quick suggestions for identifying a number of different solutions.
    • Combine your ideas Dissect your ideas 
    • Find things that can complement each other within your idea 
    • Always be thinking of ways to develop and expand on your idea 
    • Think visually, find a way to visualize your dreams and ideas in order to make them more real 
    • Connect the unconnected 
    • Steal ideas from other categories 
    • Find ways to help others
  • Let your mind go –  Every good idea needs an incubation period. Take your idea and set it to the side and let it simmer and incubate for a while. Let the idea develop and then come back to it. It is often after setting an idea to the side that the a-ha moment hits and you can truly progress the idea to the next level. You can not however, rely solely on the a-ha moment to develop your ideas. Most great ideas take a considerable amount of hard work and dedication for the a-ha moment to look and feel spontaneous. The a-ha moment is usually the result of gathering a lot of information, works it all together in a frenzy and it is then when yo can stop for a second and quit thinking about the idea for a moment with the hopes that the next evolution will just come. In order for there to be a breakthrough there first has to be a mental block. Let the thoughts come and go, the ones that count will come back to you and the ideas that fade away were probably not that valid to begin with.
  • Grab it, share it, build on it – All that being said, it is still the execution that makes a good idea great. Do not be afraid to share your idea. Submit your ideas to criticism and challenges so that it can be strengthened. Test your concept in the battlefield of ideas. You will be amazed by how many simple things you have overlooked once people start asking you questions about the inner workings of your ideas. I would also challenge you to take your ideas to people that have expertise in that field. There is no sense in discussing your idea with someone who has no credibility in that field. You want feedback from people who are experienceing the same hurdles and difficulties as you. It is easy to rely on people who are ignorant on the subject of your idea solely for the purpose of having them tell you how great your idea is. Look for real, validated feedback that can help you towards your goal as opposed to vanity compliments that just stroke your ego. The more you test and refine your idea, the stronger it will be when you take it to market.

Just do it

Nike was right on the money with this ad campaign. You can spend all the time you want thinking about being creative and testing your idea in your head but the only way to make something happen is to get out there in the world and just do it.

You have no idea the number of people that I run in to on a weekly basis that tell me about their great ideas and how creative they are. When I ask them what they do they inevitably respond with an excuse as to why they are not out chasing their idea or practicing their creativity. It is always the same story. They either need money or don’t have the time and to those people i say, I understand but disagree.

The truly creative will find a way to make their ideas reality in spite of any adversity. They will look for solutions that allow them to shine and stand out from the rest of the noise. The rest of the world will continue to make excuses and go on living in their own world while the rest of us work on changing it.

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