Asking “How” to Drive Creativity
Competition is fierce. Shoppers are demanding experiences. Dollars must work harder. The “store” is now a destination. There has never been a more challenging – or more invigorating – time for retail marketers. A new level of fearless creativity is required. To get the thoughts flowing, we offer the third in a short series of posts about creativity.
Retail marketing is driven by ideas: ideas that engage, disrupt, redefine and emotionalize the shopper experience. But where do these groundbreaking, merchandise-moving thoughts come from?
The easy answer is “everywhere.” The more challenging answer is “everywhere.” Yes, inspiration is all around, and keeping the eyes and imagination open is critical to finding the next big thing. But simply viewing something amazing does not an idea make. The real trick is understanding why something is amazing – the mechanics of its existence. This deconstruction to a deeper understanding is what creates the bones of a great idea.
“How did they do that?” That question takes the retail marketer to an entirely new level of creativity. By dissecting, re-contexting, reinterpreting and reverse engineering “that cool thing I saw that would be great for our brand,” the marketer goes deeper, and gets more.
Every trip across town or across the street has the potential to feed the imagination. Just this morning, I saw a subway platform transformed into a garden oasis. I then stopped at what used to be a basic bike lock area, now re-imagined as an interactive, hipster-cool pop-up pit stop. And the guy on the corner of Broadway and 43rd wearing the digital sandwich board gave new meaning to streaming video. I took it all in. But I didn’t stop there.
Because it’s not just about gathering ideas. It’s not enough to simply make deposits into the inspiration bank. Practical information – the how, the who, the how much – will move the marketing visions into marketing reality. I call it “See, then Seek.”
It’s a simple process. I see the uber-cool marketing idea, and then I seek some details. Who’s behind this? What permits did they have to get? How is it fabricated? What was the price tag? I talk to people on-site. I look for clues about sponsors or manufacturers. I turn to Google to get some answers.
Discovering the “how” demystifies concept execution and expands the mind to consider what’s really possible.
I do this every day. I take the idea that has spoken to me the loudest, and I break it down. I dig around and learn how the concept moved from someone’s brain into the real world. It’s an exercise in the practical that feeds the wild mind. (And, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you could ask a few more questions.)
Try it. “See, then Seek” once a day. You’ll ultimately find smarter ideas.