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7 Ways to Ignite Creativity in Your Advertising Campaigns: Inspiration from Tim Brown of IDEO

Yes, advertising creativity still matters

Creativity has always been a critical component of advertising campaigns. Think about your strongest childhood memories – the jingles, the celebrity endorsements, or commercials gone viral.

But today? Data and metrics have taken center stage because even small changes to campaigns can instantly generate higher returns. In fact, the power of data in digital advertising was our very motivation for creating AdHawk. But since data is so powerful, does creativity still matter?

Of course. You know your products, services, and customers better than anyone else. Use this knowledge to make creative campaigns and you have an asset which competitors can’t copy. In fact, studies show money spent on creative advertising has double the sales impact of money spent on non-creative ones.

Building a creative workforce takes more than hiring a bunch of designers and hosting happy hours. It requires a mindset shift that begins with leadership…These team leaders didn’t come from “creative” backgrounds — they weren’t innovation experts, designers, or writers; they were sales leaders, human resource specialists, and software engineers.
-Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO


Anyone can be creative

As Tim Brown says, anyone will be creative under the right leadership. The inspiration for you next digital advertising campaign can come from your designers, writers, engineers, sales team, customer success – anyone with access to data.

Here are some steps you can take to ignite creativity on your team.

7 ways to ignite creativity in digital advertising

Here are few common practices we see among teams who continuously improve their campaigns

Be clear about your goals

It sounds so simple … but unfortunately too often we see teams starting campaigns without a plan. Are you trying to generate MQLs? Build awareness about an upcoming holiday promotion? Test a new product idea?

Make sure you have clear expectations before beginning any digital advertising campaign.

Have a process for continuous innovation

If your product team uses an Agile you may be familiar with Scrum sprints in software development. You can use a similar approach in creating digital advertising campaigns. Run regular 2-week sprints to test ideas and generate breakthroughs. Ash Maurya has a step-by-step approach in Part 3 of Scaling Lean (he calls them LEAN sprints).

Sprints are a great way to get a team’s creative juices going.

Start with data

Planning your campaign with a blank Google sheet can be painful. Any data – even basic Google Analytics – is a better place to start. The most effective digital advertisers use data to generate better ideas.

Start by asking big questions and running simple tests to validate them.

Transcend dominant currents in your campaigns

Every organization gets into work habits and routines which impede creativity. You run another Facebook campaign … because you run Facebook campaigns. Organizational behaviorists call these “dominant currents” – tendencies to do whatever is routine.

The remedy for this problem is simple – try to identify them. Once you see your routines, it is easy to transcend them by trying something new.

Use 5 Whys to overcome roadblocks

Got “writer’s block”? Wondering why a campaign stopped working? Try 5 Whys.

Manufacturers have been using 5 Whys for decades to overcome constraints and solve problems. The approach is popular because it is simple and can be used in many situations. Even Jeff Bezos used 5 Whys to improve safety at Amazon. Here’s how it works.

Start with a problem or question: We missed our sales target this quarter.

  1. Why? Because we didn’t have enough qualified leads.
  2. Why? Because we didn’t get enough leads to our landing page. Conversion rates fell.
  3. Why? Because our Facebook campaign didn’t send enough leads to the page.
  4. Why? Because clicks have been falling for the past 3 months.
  5. Why? Because we’ve been running the same campaign for 6 months.

Encourage patience and optimize like a data scientist

Creativity sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Eh, no. Not in the real world.

Digital advertising is competitive and hard. Teams (and CEOs) who expect quick results without months of blood and sweat will be disappointed.

Think long term and build a process of continuously optimizing your campaigns like a data scientist.

Let EVERYONE see your advertising campaign data

Does everyone on your team know how your Facebook ads are doing? Can they look at their iPhones and compare results across platforms?

A major challenge in digital advertising is data transparency – we have metrics spread across dozens of reports and spreadsheets.

One of the easiest ways to ignite creativity is giving your team a unified, high-level look at results across platforms.

Good news! You’re just moments away from giving your team this creative spark. Just try AdHawk today.

We’ll take care of care of the data and optimization so your team can focus on making creative ads unique to your business.


Photo credit: Robert Scoble

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About the Author

Marketing and Growth Director at AdHawk. Helping business find confidence and success online, one hefty article at a time.