February 25, 2018
You Don’t Have to be a Creative to be Creative
We think of artists, musicians, and poets when we hear the word creative. Or sometimes architects and designers. And when we pit ourselves against people with really specific talents, it’s easy to default to a left brain mentality. A built-in excuse to not address our own creative needs.
But more and more research is showing evidence that the left brain/right brain theory (where the left brain is analytical and the right brain is free-flowing and creative) isn’t completely true. The hemispheres work in concert almost all the time. This is good news for those of us that don’t paint or write music for a living. It allows us to put new meaning to the word creative by looking at a common thread that exists in many of us—the want to solve problems.
As a higher ed marketer, there is no lack of problems to solve. A lack of resources – time, talent, team, money – can cause plenty of strife. Especially when tasked with weighty problems. Maybe you’re in need of a landing page for an admissions campaign, but you aren’t a designer or developer nor do you have easy access to one. Maybe your college’s core message is off, but you aren’t a copywriter or brand strategist.
Many will try and will themselves through these situations. Don’t have a designer? Learn Illustrator! [raises hand] Tired of your message? Write a new tagline! (The faculty will love this btw) And then use your new Illustrator skills and plaster it on everything. Trying to build a more SEO friendly site? Watch 6 hours of Rand Fishkin videos and hop into the CMS and get to fixing!
At some level, I’m guilty of all of these things (minus the Rand Fishkin videos). The desire to apply a creative solution to a problem is innate. But all too often we are just applying a poor creative execution to a symptom, and not a problem at all.
The best “creatives” I’ve worked with never start drawing or writing. They start by digging into what someone really needs. With interviews, conversations, and research. And then they build insights and refine those until they’ve really identified the issue and a direction that may solve it. Most often, we don’t need new copy, content, landing pages, or flyers. We need more students that can thrive. We need more ways to help students who may be at risk. We need better ways to differentiate from our competition. And the best “creatives” are the ones who can identify these problems and uncover newer, simpler ways to solve them.