Baby pictures. We’ve all seen them. When a new parent or grandparent sticks that smartphone under your nose to show you their precious darling, you automatically start to spit out compliments.
“He’s definitely his father’s son,” you say, as the proud papa swipes through the first 200 digital images for you. “Oh….it’s a girl? Of course! I can see that now. My eyes get so blurry when they are open. She’s beautiful.”
We can see physical attributes in an infant, but we can’t see is his or her level of creativity. If we could, we’d see a lot of it.
According to a widely-cited test originally developed by George Land and Beth Jarman to help NASA select innovative engineers and scientists, most children are born creative but gradually lose creativity as they transition through life and into adulthood.
After testing the NASA people, Land and Jarmean decided to test average citizens. They measured the creativity of a group of children starting at age five and again at age 10 and 15.
They also tested adults.
At age 5, 98% of the kids were creative. Only 30% of the same group were identified as creative at age 10 and just 12% by age 15. Only 2% of adults fell into the creative category.
PeopleScience.com says the test measured “divergent thinking” — the ability to look at a problem, challenge, or object and come up with multiple solutions or different ways to use the said object. The more possibilities you can imagine, the more creative and innovative you are.
An article by ResearchGate.net explains what happens.
“As young children, we are more creative because we are looking through ‘unpolluted’ and ‘unsullied’ fresh eyes. As teenagers and adults, we start to filter everything we see, just like a polarized lens that lets in only light that is aligned one way.”
To reverse years of filtered thinking, we need to start connecting experiences and synthesizing new ideas. But….
Does creativity in your marketing still matter?
With the advent of digital marketing and electronic data gathering some marketers wrongly believe creativity and innovation are no longer necessary. They assume we can just monitor and measure the preferences and habits of prospective customers and then just lay out the offerings accordingly.
If you can get all of the data on a prospective customer, your competitors can get that data also. You and all your competitors make the same offers.
To beat the competition, you must provide an innovative solution and present it creatively. Creative messages stand out and add value that motivates a purchase. A well-known immutable marketing rule states, “It’s better to be different than be better.”
Proving that your product is better is difficult, and not always believable, or even as important as differentiation.
What can you do?
Since creativity is so important for your marketing, you would be wise to either hire a creative marketing firm or learn to be more creative yourself.
Selfishly, I recommend the former — but if you want to improve your level of creativity, it’s never too late.
Creativity can be learned and un-creative habits can be un-learned. Using the skills of associating, questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting you can develop creative solutions and messages.
Once you are more creative, you can also recognize it in others — maybe even in infant photos.
“Your baby looks very creative.”
You say, “You might have the next Steve Jobs from Apple there.”
“What makes you think that?” asks the parent.
“I don’t know,” you reply. “Maybe it’s the glasses, black turtleneck, and blue jeans.”