Creativity’s Role in Business – 3 Steps to Invest Strategically on Creative Projects

Nowadays, there’s a lot of uncertainty around “creative projects” and their value in the business world.  After all, how do you know ahead of time if a new website will actually improve and grow your business?

On the one hand, every business has a brand, and the good brands have excellent websites, eye-catching marketing materials and strong messages that create a cohesive brand identity and add value to the business.  On the other hand, it can be hard to measure the ROI on a new logo design, website refresh, or full brand overhaul.

Investing strategically for returns on creative projects is equally important and difficult to do.  But it can be done; great brands do it all the time.  It’s how Nike capitalized on the barefoot running fad by selling minimalist running shoes at $160 a pop: http://www.nike.com/fall13-app/us/en_us/flyknit.

The secret is a combination of strategy and an understanding of human psychology.  Follow these 3 easy steps to make sure your creative project is a smart and strategic investment for your business that you see a return on.

1)   Set REAL goals.  If you want a good return on your project, you have to define success.  That means setting concrete, realistic goals.  Real goals are specific and measurable.  Converting 5% of all traffic to your website is real goal.  So is getting 500 new likes on Facebook within 3 months.  One thing both of these examples have in common is that they are based on other people taking action.  Set real goals that are based on other people taking a specific action, like buying your product, liking your Facebook page, or walking through your front door.

2)   Define your audience.  With goals based on other people taking action, it’s critical to know who those people are – to understand their dreams, what makes them tick, and the sources of stress in their lives.  By defining your audience this way, you can understand how your business creates value on a deeper level, and communicate with your audience in a more meaningful way.  Like goals, the more specific your audience, the better.

3)   Design an experience (not an end-product).  With your goals set and your audience defined, all that’s left is to connect the dots.  The trick is to design the experience that your audience wants.  Most of us don’t need to buy more stuff, but we do need more meaning and fulfillment in our lives.  The products and services worth buying (and selling) are the things that can bring us the meaning and fulfillment we all crave as human beings.  Speak to your audience’s dreams, push their hot buttons, and help alleviate the stress and anxiety in their lives.  They’ll love you for understanding them, and you’ll earn their trust (and business) too.

As technology increasingly mediates the interactions between consumers and businesses, your online presence, brand, and creative projects can make or break your business.  So you can’t not have these things, but you also can’t afford to invest in something that doesn’t work.  The thing to remember is that creativity should be a tool in service of business goals.  And it can be very effective!  Like any tool, though, it must be designed to serve a purpose.  So make sure your project is designed to serve your business.