25 March 2024

No, Marketing is Not Just About “Being Creative”

There’s a common conception that working in marketing is all about being creative. Ask any marketer whether their job is just to “come up with creative ideas all day” and they will likely have to resist the urge to roll their eyes. While marketing as a discipline does demand a host of creative skills, this stereotype of the creative marketer tends to translate into the assumption that good marketing is measured solely in terms of the originality of a marketing department’s creative deliverables. (Or worse, that going viral is a brand’s only measure of success.)

Shows like Mad Men or Emily in Paris might lead you to the conclusion that marketing departments are staffed entirely by creative divas – or worse, that if you’re not hiring high-minded artists to deliver boundary-pushing marketing campaigns, you’re wasting your time. This can be both misleading and discouraging, especially for smaller or less established businesses that don’t have hefty budgets to play with. (Relatable? Check out this blog post.)

However, the real waste of time (not to mention money, energy, and resources) is neglecting to create a strong and strategic foundation for your marketing before focusing on those creative campaign assets – because those are merely the visible results of a lot of invisible work and underlying organizational infrastructure.

marketing team doing an analytic brainstorming and finding creative solutions to marketing problems using market research and project management.

So What is Marketing All About, Then?

Good marketing, at its core, is about aligning your team’s efforts toward specific and measurable business goals. It requires strategy, focus, and systematic planning and operations. You might be surprised to learn that a marketer’s job can involve:

  • Market and competitive research 
  • Strategic planning and execution
  • Budgeting and negotiating contracts
  • Working with a wide range of software and tech
  • Scheduling and project management
  • Operational management and process creation 
  • Presenting
  • Coordinating and collaborating with a range of stakeholders
  • Data monitoring, analysis, and reporting
  • A/B testing and experimentation 

And yes, creativity does also factor in. In addition to skills like internal and external communication, ideation, writing, and design, the business of marketing demands other forms of creativity such as coming up with outside-the-box strategies, finding unique workarounds to common problems, and deftly navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship (such as making the most of a limited marketing budget). 

So, rather than focusing on marketing creative (i.e. those assets which happen to be the output of many marketing departments), we encourage you to think about marketing creatively.

Have Your Creative and Be It, Too

Here’s how to do it – and how this alternative definition of creativity can help you build a strategically sound foundation for your marketing program.

Translate a vision into reality: A vision doesn’t always have to be an artistic vision. It can be an entrepreneurial one. Ask yourself what you want for the future of your business – then ask yourself how marketing can help you get there. Marketing efforts that are not aligned with the broader direction of your company are an almost certain waste of time and resources (and contribute to that creative marketing stereotype we mentioned earlier).

Look at something from a different angle: Good marketing takes into account a variety of viewpoints, including those of customers, board members and stakeholders, leaders and team members. It must navigate both internal and external considerations, translating company goals into customer-facing messaging, but also delivering and communicating the value of marketing across the organization.

CMO team working on fixing marketing problems for clients through market research, A/B testing, and strategic planning

Find inspiration everywhere: You never know where or when inspiration might strike, so keep an open mind and follow your curiosity wherever it leads. You might find a muse in the form of a mentor, or a solution hiding in a different industry’s approach to a problem. 

Process, process, process: Both artists and entrepreneurs are often asked about their process, and for good reason: talent and vision only gets you so far. Put another way, genius is not very scaleable. Standardizing processes with project management tools and briefs helps translate big ideas into actionable tasks for others, enabling results to replicate and businesses to grow sustainably. 

Make the most of your tools: Think of your tech stack like a pot of paintbrushes. Each tool has its purpose in painting the broader picture of your business, and they need to work together to do so. You don’t always need to spend a fortune to get the best one; it’s more important to get the right tool for the size and scale of the job.

Need a creative marketing solution for your business? Book a free consult with us today.

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