For the past two years, I was involved in an exciting Dublin based music tech startup. I joined the company for two reasons. As a musician who has been embracing online marketing, I had a good understanding of Social Media platforms, and I knew I could contribute my knowledge. The second reason was the fact that I am a musician. I was a user of the platform, and because of this, I could think like a user.
I was by no means digital marketing expert. But I got an opportunity to upskill in the areas I was lacking, which I am very grateful. Through the accelerator program, the startup company was involved, I also got to observe other startups marketing efforts.
I could share with you the pitfalls and successes I witnessed, but that is not the purpose of this post. The purpose is to share with you one thing I noticed that made a big difference and could help you. Never ignore the creative.
Creative is the meat and the bone of your content. If you just focus on the message you are trying to get across, it becomes soleless, and it will not resonate with people. Yes, you need a story, but how you tell the story is the difference between if people care or not. Creative is what makes us human; it is what we relate to.
Running a startup is hard! But I got news for you, so is being a full-time musician. When the bills are piling in, and you don’t know where the next cash instalment is coming from, it is easy to push the creative aside. But in fact, this is exactly when you should get creative.
Let’s think of it this way. Think about an advertisement that has stayed in your mind. I am pretty sure it is the creative part of the ad that stuck with you. Now think of an advertisement that made you take action. Clearly, the story somehow resonated with you. In an ideal world, the advertisement told you a story about a problem you have been struggling with and offered a solution that would help you. Even if we are talking about something that is just “nice to have”, the story can relate to a specific demographic and place the product as something that seems cool to them.
Then we have the big companies who doe to their legacy and/ or relationship with the retailers already have positioned their products in the optimal place in the shop. They can focus more on brand awareness, for example, think of the Nike ads. But they also are waking up to the power of Influencer Marketing. They can place the products in the hands of trendsetters of small niche markets. Leave the creative in their hands, as they know their target market.
Here’s another problem I experienced in the accelerator startup environment. You are constantly encouraged to optimise, test and talk to users. Understanding the user and speaking their language is important. But the danger for the creative process is that if we only focus on optimising and testing, we will suffocate the creative. If we do this, we end up with a story of something along the lines of “Check out our awesome product”, rather than painting a vivid picture of how the product could benefit the potential customer.
The creative process is complex, and often hard to squeeze into a corporate or a start-up schedule. Great creative people don’t always work the best under pressure. If you provide them with the right surroundings, they can be very productive. I noticed within our team that trying to force countability into the creative process, usually resulted in lower quality content. By this, I don’t mean that you should not manage the creative people in your team. But trying to set a specific time limit for a creative task is in many ways very similar as setting up a specific time limit to a developers new coding task.
I often did most of my creative work early in the morning before the rest of the team got in when the office was quiet. Also on the days, I was working from home I seem to get the creative juices flowing. In other words, having people looking over your shoulder rarely is beneficial to creativity. It is not a spectator sport.
But whatever you do, don’t expect your story resonate with people if you ignore the creative. Your story is important, but how you tell it is the key to people paying attention. The same rules apply in the music business.