Integrated marketing communication (IMC) planners can generate creative ideas by gaining extensive knowledge of the product for which they are creating content. They must understand what makes it unique, learn the motivations and emotions of those who might buy the product, imagine every use and application of the product, and compare it to other similar products on the market. Belch & Belch (2015) note that the four best-known approaches that can that “guide the creative team’s search for a major selling idea” are: “Using a unique selling proposition, finding the inherent drama, creating a brand image and positioning”. IMC planners must experience the product themselves in order to deliver the right message about the product.
IMC planners should (when possible) see, touch, smell, hear and use the products they are promoting. This will help identify what the product’s unique selling proposition is. Sometimes the benefit of using the product is sublime and cannot be identified without sensory input. Knowing what makes the product unique will help marketers to build an effective campaign. They will know what will appeal to the consumer, not what they believe the appeal will be. Also, developing first hand knowledge of the product will reveal what the product’s inherent drama is. Using the product will lead to discovery of what emotions will be felt, thoughts will be had, benefits will be gained by the future purchasers of the product. This is invaluable insight to the IMC planner. With the product in hand, the planner will be able to truly put it “to the test” and see all possible applications of the product. This will allow the marketer to uncover what images are associated with the product and its particular brand. With this in mind, the IMC planner will be in a better position to develop the brand image. Finally, the planner will be able to compare the product with other known products on the market. The marketer will now know the salient attributes of the product and will be better able to position it in the marketplace.
In addition to knowing everything they can about the products they are working with, IMC planners should be well-rounded citizens of the world. Exploring personal interests, developing relationships and involving themselves in their communities lends itself to a dynamic understanding of people and cultures. This is critical for anyone hoping to connect with others through marketing. West Virginia University’s IMC program teaches,
The one commonality in people who are rich with ideas is that they constantly expose themselves to a very wide range of experiences — they listen to all sorts of music, attend sporting events, explore the arts, and read everything they can get their hands on. They’re sponges of life, and their wide experiential background gives them a wealth of material to draw from. (“IMC 610, Lesson 4”, n.d., para. 9)
Marketers should stimulate their thinking by spending their idea-generating time considering the consumer. Steve Radick, VP and Director of Public Relations at Brunner (2015), says that marketers must make a “Copernican shift” by developing “consumer centricity” (see below). First, consider consumers’ needs and what products will resonate with them. He then says a brand should be built around the information gathered about the consumer, specifically how the consumer will benefit from the product. Finally, the product should be optimized for search engines [and other media] for maximum exposure to the consumer. To adapt this idea to marketing, marketers must go where the consumer is going in order to understand his or her needs, beliefs, wants, views and opinions. Then, the message about the product will be more apt to resonate. This means the IMC planner must scour all forms of media (social media being particularly insightful) to see what the consumer is thinking, saying, laughing at, being inspired by, reposting. Some marketers call this “social intelligence” and attest to it being invaluable in generating “strategic insight” (Harrysson, Metayer, and Sarrazin, 2012). The planner must also be aware of current events being played out in TV news and other print media. For example, Jeep was fully aware of the environmental consciousness of consumers when it produced the “If there is no planet, where will you drive?” ad (see below) which coincided with Earth Day last year (as cited in “100 brilliant”, 2014).
In addition, he or she must be familiar with current advertising and PR trends and how the consumer is reacting to that. Consumers are becoming more responsive to ads that elicit emotion. Marketers need to know what elicits emotion from the consumer so that can inform a marketing campaign. Unless the IMC planner goes where the consumer is going (social media, TV and print media, etc.) to gain insight into the consumer, the marketing efforts will fall flat and not bear fruit.
In an effort to stimulate creative thinking, and encourage and reward originality in marketing, employers should set up work environments that are conducive to creation of brilliant, innovative ideas. Katherine Vong (2012) lists five things that can be done to encourage creativity. She says employers should surround the office with “happy colors and images”, brainstorm the right way by allowing some critical feedback to increase creativity and stay on the right track, encourage interaction and conversation through “unstructured and unfocused conversations”, allow workers to play (like slides, writable walls, interior gardens, etc.), and increase workplace diversity (“the more diverse a group’s knowledge and beliefs are, the more diverse ideas and creative solutions will arise”) (Vong, 2012). The natural result of this for the employee will be a rewarding career and self-satisfaction that comes with knowing that the employee is a creative engine in the workplace.
Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A. (2015). Advertising and promotion: An integrated marketing communications perspective. (10th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Education.
Harrysson, M, Metayer, E. and Sarrazin, H. (2012, November). How ‘social intelligence’ can guide decisions. McKinsey Quarterly. Retrieved from http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/how_social_intelligence_can_guide_decisions
IMC 610: Introduction to IMC. Lesson 4: IMC creative Strategy & Execution (n.d.) Retrieved from https://ecampus.wvu.edu/webapps/blackboard/execute/displayLearningUnit?course_id=_33962_1&content_id=_1772152_1&framesetWrapped=true
100 brilliant print adverts. [Web log]. (2014, July 14). Retrieved from http://www.creativebloq.com/inspiration/print-ads-1233780
Radick, Steve. (2015, May 30)). How to avoid the content marketing arms race. Presentation presented at INTEGRATE conference, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/Sradick/how-to-avoid-the-content-marketing-arms-race
Vong, K. (2012, August 3). 5 ways to boost creativity in the workplace. Retrieved from http://www.trendreports.com/article/boost-creativity-in-the-workplace