Creativity is the legal way of gaining an unfair advantage.

The originator of the idea that creativity can give you an unfair advantage is Maurice Saatchi.

Now Lord Saatchi he lived this out in the way he and Charles, his brother, launched their agency Saatchi & Saatchi in the 1970s.

It was in Golden Square in Soho (good name); with a reception that took up three quarters of the space making the tiny business look huge (size isn’t everything but small doesn’t help confidence); and by getting friends, actors, anyone who looked good and was noisy constantly coming in and the phone constantly ringing the impression of a booming business was created (perception is the key.)

Look successful. Punch above your weight

Creativity is like using jujitsu. Like Avis the once small car-hire company who said in their advertising “When you’re only no.2 you try harder. Or else.” They turned the car rental battlefield into two players. Big, fat, lazy Goliath (Hertz) and small, hungry, reactive David (Avis.) They dismissed all other players from the radar screen. This is one of the cheekiest and most effective marketing campaigns ever.

Waitrose in their current price match campaign (1000 items price matched with mighty Tesco) use Tesco’s image for being cheap and floor them in consequence.

There’s always a better way

Whatever the market or the situation there’s always another way of doing things. Which is why I love the idea of John’s phone, the world’s simplest mobile phone that’s just been launced. And that’s all it does…phone. No games, camera, e-mail. This was an opportunity for creativity created by iPhone and the others which do everything else except phone properly.

Remember, when the others zig, zag.

Creativity isn’t just related to ads and products

In a world that’s moving so fast with so much choice the most useful place to invest your time, money and creativity is in ensuring your customer service is spot-on. Yet I hear more about IT strategy than this right now. Here’s what Jack Welch one time head of the huge GE said:

“Stop worrying about technology. Start worrying about who trusts you.”

We live in 24/7 world

Night used to be a frontier for the human animal. When it got dark we slept. In Brighton, where I live,  entrepreneurs spend sunny days on the beach and then work until the small hours.

And this creates opportunities for creative minds to innovate. Like 24 hour supermarkets. Like 24 libraries (Bath University.) Like 24 hour MRI scanning (how else do you sensibly utilise the capital costs of such kit?)

Make your office a living poster

Be creative in your office like Google is. Their European HQ is full of great and low cost ideas (like reclaimed cable cars used for break-out meetings, decorated by local art colleges as beach huts or fish and chip shops) or chill-out rooms darkened with huge fish tanks or a 24/7 tech surgery for fixing all and any problems on laptops and mobiles. It’s full of good, healthy food and a good, healthy attitude to life including a sense of humour.

Most offices are like filing cabinets or, worse, wastepaper baskets. Depressing, untidy and dull.

Create relationships

Join up with people or firms who inspire you. Google did with NASA, Stuart Rose with the Women’s Institute when he joined M&S as CEO – people who’d fearlessly tell him what they thought. And like the brand Skinny Cow did with Top Shop.

Don’t idly network. Find a bunch of people in different markets and with different skills whom you like and who inspire you to become more creative.

The Creative Brain

The difference between a good and a bad business will often be in the creative flair of the former. Be better at exploring “what would happen if?” and be more successful. And the great thing about being a bit more creative than the next guy is it’s free.

One of my favourite quotes is from physicist Lord Rutherford who said:

“We have no money so we shall to think”.

Creativity is free and it’s legal so let’s start…

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