Everyone seems to be talking about big data. And for good reason. Knowing which content is driving more conversion is important, but analytics can’t write and there’s still no app for a big idea.
A simple Google search on the term “Big Data” reveals 2 billion results while a Google search for “Creativity” only brings back 60 million results. Nearly 50% more attention is being devoted to data, but I say half of social success depends on creativity built on top of and verified by good data. Not a direct measure but research has proven that 65% of TV ROI is attributable to the creative and 35% to the media data.
Big ideas drive social action.
Knowing humor is a common characteristic of viral videos doesn’t create the video. A list of high performing key words doesn’t simply form into a good piece of content. Both need a creator.
Yet, you don’t need to be Picasso or da Vinci to be creative. Knowing the creative formula can help you be more creative. I was surprised that there is a formula or process to creativity until I read A Technique for Producing Ideas. by James Young Webb with a forward by Bill Bernbach. Then I discovered that as an advertising creative I followed this technique naturally.
Production of ideas follows a definite and necessary process. The formula is so simple that few believe it. As Young Webb said, “While simple to state, it actually requires the hardest kind of intellectual work to follow, so that not all who accept it use it.”
What is the creative formula?
Step 1: Gather Raw Materials – Both the materials of your immediate problem and the materials of your general knowledge. Gather research on your company, competitors, target audience, but also general knowledge about life and current trends.
Step 2: Mental Digestion – The working over of these materials in your mind. Try all these pieces of information together this way and that. Bring two facts together and see how they fit – look for a relationship.
Step 3: Incubation – Here you let something beside the conscious mind do the work of synthesis. Make no effort of a direct nature. Drop the whole subject, and put the problem out of your mind. Go see a movie, play basketball, work on another project.
Step 4: Eureka Effect – The actual birth of the Idea – the “Eureka! I have it” stage. This tends to come when you least expect it. In the shower, in the middle of the night, on a run. Always be prepared to write it down. Big ideas are fleeting and can leave just as quickly as they came.
Step 5: Final Finessing – The final shaping and development of this idea to practical usefulness. Take your idea out into the world of reality. Here you may need to adjust it and make it fit the company, product, target, social channel, etc.
In my experience, the process would get short changed by deadlines, and expectations of those who believed writing is simply sitting down and typing. I never sat down to type until I first had an idea. When you have an idea the ad, plan, paper, story, book, almost writes itself. If you skip the incubation stage, you miss out on really brilliant big ideas.
Everyone has creativity, but sadly most of us left it behind with childhood …