Sometimes, it feels like bots, trolls, and hackers run today’s digital world. Everything you put out on the internet leaves you a little more vulnerable to callouts and name-calling from the anonymous masses. That is if your content gets seen at all. We’ve all felt the pain of posting something heartfelt and hearing crickets. Don’t even get us started on the algorithm tricks. These factors can all put the beat down on your creative process.
Considering all of this, it’s easy to gravitate toward “safe” content that gets you the most positive feedback. But are you putting out your best material if you’re living for the Like button? It can be tough to find the balance between content that engages, content that enrages, and content that falls flat. We get it. Sometimes it feels impossible to get your audience’s attention while maintaining your creative edge. After all, marketing is data-driven, and social media marketing is all about conversions, right?
We’ve got one question for you: what would you create if you couldn’t see the numbers?
Data analysis has its time and place. But if you’ve gotten sidetracked by stats and figures, it may be time to take a step back and jumpstart your creative process. These tools will help you come back to your creative center so you can provide value where it counts.
Use Your ‘Hazy Intuition’
Creativity rarely strikes like lightning. An idea may come to you in a flash, but the initial idea is a relatively unimportant part of the process. What matters most is how you shape it into reality throughout the creative process.
Rather than starting with a specific goal, most creative people “start out with a hazy intuition or vision,” according to psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman. “After a lot of trial and error, they get closer and closer to discovering what their idea is, and then they become really, really gritty to flesh it out.”
When motivation is faulty, always come back to your purpose. What do you want to change in your industry? What roadmaps could help your customer along their journey? When you lean into the haziness, everything will eventually come into focus.
Write to Just One Person(a)
You’ve spent plenty of time thinking about how to present your brand’s personality. Hopefully, you’ve spent just as long thinking about your audience. Finding out what your target audience needs to hear—how to speak their language—is key to success.
Take Spotify, for example. Music is universally popular, but the music app’s marketing team knew their target persona couldn’t be “everyone.” Instead, they developed a toolkit to create persona “clusters,” or characters that represented how different groups of people interacted with the app. These personas narrow the focus and let Spotify speak directly to a single person.
Establishing a clear audience isn’t just a marketing ploy. It’s a tactic taught in creative writing and composition classrooms around the world to help students craft pointed, engaging prose. Addressing your writing to one person, even if they’re a character representing your entire audience, takes the pressure off and can boost your authenticity.
Spotify’s product designer, Mady Torres de Souza, also found that “Although personas don’t replace user research, they can help us create educated hypotheses and save us time.” In other words, if you already know how to connect with your target audience, you can accurately predict their reactions to your content.
Whenever you create any piece of content, write directly to that one persona. Even better, before you get started map that person’s experience of your brand:
- What are their pain points?
- How are you uniquely suited to offer wisdom?
- What will your main call-to-action be?
- What steps do they need to take to buy from you?
Don’t forget the “process” part of creative process
We’ve all stared at the blinking black line on a blank page of writing. Or pondered a blank canvas waiting for inspiration to strike. In those moments, it can be tempting to call it all off and try again tomorrow.
But creativity functions like a muscle. When you work it every day, it gets stronger. Action is the best way to get any creative process out of a rut, even if that means working through small, generative practices. Get out of your own head by posing a chain of “what if” questions. They can help you snowball ideas until you touch on something that requires a deeper dive.
Another option, proposed by author David Kelley, is to create a quick prototype when you’re feeling stuck. In his book Creative Confidence, he writes: “To document potentially excellent innovations, create quick prototypes. Follow Boyle’s law, named for Dennis Boyle, one of IDEO’s master prototypers to quickly produce videos, mock-ups of apps, foam core build-outs of an interior office layout or a movie-style storyboard to illustrate a new service.”
Create and bring that prototype to each meeting to spark a new angle. Who knows what could come of it.
Create Towards a Known Destination
Sure, marketing is about the customer. But where do you fit in? When you operate from a place of intuition, you’ll be able to show up more powerfully in your creative process. Ask yourself what makes you tick. What are your core concerns? How can you relate them to providing consistent value?
If you’re going to guide your customers and clients through your brand experience, you need to know touchpoints along the way. Think about the last time you pulled up Google Maps on your phone. Did you zoom in to see the mile markers and turns along your path, then pinch out to see the trajectory? Sometimes it pays to narrow the focus.
Instead of limiting your creativity, having a destination to create towards can liberate your creativity. It fires up your problem-solving abilities and lets you tap into a different set of skills. If you’re trying to get to Point B, how can you map at least three different routes?
Focus on Creating Feeling
Remember: people often want to buy a feeling or an experience more than a product or service. Sometimes connecting with your audience on an emotional level means reconnecting with your own emotions. Think about your brand. When was the last time you felt truly inspired by your work? What motivated you to start doing this work in the first place? If you remember why you love what you do, you’ll be more likely to help others fall in love with it too.
Create with the heart and not just with data. To connect to people and sell to them, appeal to their emotions by immersing them in the narrative. You’ll spark a reciprocal relationship that positions you as the expert and guide. Invite your people along for the ride as you’re learning, too.
Challenge yourself to let loose
As jazz musician Charlie Parker noted, “You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.” If you’re creating content without breaking a sweat, the odds are good you’re writing for the numbers, not from the heart. Instead of creating bland, forgettable content, challenge yourself to create like your brand depends on it. Because it does.
Savy is here to help you refine your brand’s edge, so drop us a line if you’re feeling stuck.