By Heather K. Margolis, Channel Maven Consulting
Creativity is a driving force at the beginning of every company’s journey to success. It doesn’t matter if you’re a channel partner, a college dropout founding a start-up from your garage or a seasoned executive. Regardless of size, sector or geography, hatching a creative idea is part of every business’ DNA.
Creativity must remain a priority if driving more demand is the goal.
Until channel partners reach a certain size, there are too many hats to wear on any given day just to keep the business growing. As a result, creativity quickly becomes elusive. Waiting in the wings to take its place are other equally important entrepreneurial traits like passion, dedication, perseverance and self-confidence. Eventually as business gains traction, creativity wanes until its absence begins negatively impacting growth and then an uphill battles ensues as companies work to weave it back into the over all strategy.
In 2010, an IBM Global CEO Study challenged the C-Suite to lead with bold creativity and connect with customers in imaginative ways. They said 21st Century success depended upon it. Adobe then backed up the importance of creativity with their own study where 80% of respondents said creativity was critical to economic growth, but only 25% believed they were living up to their creative potential. Ouch. You might be thinking, “great but those are old stats.” You’re right, but the picture hasn’t changed. More recently, Forrester weighed in stating that companies fostering creativity are 3.5X more likely to achieve 10% more in revenue growth than their peers.
Building creativity into daily routines is the easiest way to ensure it becomes second nature. Here are a few simple ideas to help channel partners incorporate creativity into each day.
1. Creative Content Ideas
Generating ideas for blogs and social media content topics is a common struggle for partners we work with. Turn to the team for ideas. Project managers, account managers and salespeople working for the partner are ear-to-the-ground and the solutions they uncover to solve common problems make for interesting and relevant content topics. Vendors can help by making sure field marketing managers, channel account managers and sales teams provide content ideas that will engage customers.
2. Stimulate Creativity
Brain Tracy, author of The Psychology Of Selling, says there are three ways to stimulate creativity. Try putting these ideas into daily practice:
3. Map It
Mind mapping came into vogue in the 70’s when Tony Buzan created a non-linear approach to brainstorming that’s more in line with how our brains work. Use mind mapping during brainstorming or in lieu of traditional note taking to spark creativity and process information more quickly. There are several tools to work with mind mapping digitally; many of them are free and for those who like to doodle, a more analog approach is just as, if not more, effective.
4. Get Everyone Involved
Bringing creativity to the minds of the entire team helps build momentum as you adopt new habits. Boring meetings aren’t inspiring. In order to liven things up, make sure the purpose of the meeting is clearly defined and bring fidget toys when decisions have to be made. Studies show fiddling with objects helps mental clarity. Try going chair-less to keep meetings short and your team literally thinking on their feet.
5. Don’t Wait For Creativity To Strike…Schedule It
James Clear a behavioral psychologist and expert on the topics of habit formation and performance improvement, says no single act will uncover more creative powers than forcing yourself to create consistently. Sounds painful, but it’s a tried and true technique used by some of history’s most famous creative influencers like Maya Angelou and Pablo Picasso. It’s actually no different than scheduling exercise or business planning. James claims it’s a differentiator. Professionals make a schedule and stick to it and amateurs wait until they feel inspired and then act.
6. Get Moving!
Exercise has long been thought of as a natural creativity booster and a recent Stanford University study agrees. The research focused on walking in particular and makes a good case for walking meetings; something Steve Jobs and other influencers are known for. Creative responses were compared while walking versus sitting and the walkers, no matter if they were outside or inside on a treadmill out-performed their sitting peers by an average of 60%.
In case walking isn’t your thing, there’s good news. Other studies confirm aerobic exercise provides tangible improvement to creativity, as does meditation, yoga and other mindfulness practices.
Finding ways to bring creativity into your partners’ daily routines makes perfect sense when considering the facts. Is helping partners infuse creativity into their businesses making them 3.5X more likely to increase demand generation?
Heather K. Margolis, President and Founder of Channel Maven Consulting, helps organizations of all sizes drive more demand through channel programs by utilizing the most effective strategies in new and traditional marketing communications. Margolis has led channel programs for companies like EMC, EqualLogic, and Dell and consulted on the creation of new, more effective channel programs that take advantage of the latest in communication tools. She has spoken extensively to vendors and solution providers about the importance of adding value and communicating effectively using the latest tools in social media and online engagement.