“I’m not creative”, “I can’t think of anything”, “I can’t do that” – Mimimi: No more! You can be creative when you want or when you have to. You can practice creativity at the push of a button and I’ll show you how. In my blog post you will find out what creativity techniques are suitable for, which techniques you can use alone or in a group, and how you can help your creativity to improve your content.
Remember: You can always visit our category ‘ online marketing ‘ for more articles.
“I am not creative”
Not convinced of being creative right now? You are anyway. In other words, it definitely can be you, even if it just doesn’t feel like it. Because: Everyone can be creative. But each in his own way. This is because there are different talents slumbering in every person on which to build. And, according to experts, this creativity can be trained and improved with creativity techniques. You can control and influence your creativity, but various factors such as your environment or your state of mind also affect your creativity.
4P model: Person, Process, Press, Product
The 4P model clearly shows that creativity is influenced and depends on various factors.
P erson: The values, attitudes as well as thinking and behavior of you as a person influence creativity.
P rocess: The procedure, for example the application of a certain creativity technique, also has an effect on creativity.
P ress: The framework in which creativity should arise can have positive or negative effects. This includes the environment or the room in which you want or should be creative.
P roduct: This means the result, such as a brilliant idea. Which is influenced by the other three Ps (Person, Process, Press).
4P model based on Mel Rhodes, based on Thinking Tools of Creativity and Innovation, Florian Rustler, Midas Management Verlag 2018, 8th edition, pages 22-24.
Requirements for using creativity techniques
If you are the only one who works creatively to solve a problem, it will be easier to create suitable conditions for you. If a group is to be creative together, you should find out in advance what is important for your colleagues.
The place plays a big role in being creative. Is the room in which you use the techniques inspiring for everyone? Is there a pleasant atmosphere or do some participants feel uncomfortable there?
The timing should be tailored to the group. Everyone has their peak phases at different times of the day. Some people perform at their peak in the morning, while others can work better at night.
Team player and / or lone fighter? Find out whether you or people in your team have better ideas alone than in a team. Some people work better alone than in a group, with others it is the other way round, and some ideas come up both in a group and alone.
Relaxation or tension? High stress is actually bad for creativity. Actually because this too differs from person to person. Some people only achieve maximum performance when the pressure is increased. You need a certain amount of stress. With others, nothing works anymore. In any case, it is important that neither under- nor excessive demands arise.
Creativity is …
Before you think about how you can work and be creative with different creativity techniques, it is worthwhile to briefly think about what creativity actually is. Try to define for yourself what creativity is in one sentence – without using a search engine or advisor.
What is creativity
If you google the word “creativity” it is simply described with two words: “creative power” or “creative ability”. Wikipedia defines creativity as “the ability to create something that is new or original and useful or usable” and if you look at some guides on the topic, it quickly becomes clear: There is no one correct definition of what creativity there are only similarities. For example, that creativity always contains something new or should be seen as a process that can be consciously operated and, in the best case, leads to a useful result. That is at least my quintessence, which does not claim to be exhaustive or final.
Florian Rustler, the author of the book “Thinking Tools of Creativity and Innovation”, writes about the definition of creativity: “Unfortunately there is no one definition of creativity that is accepted by all researchers. There are as many definitions as there are scientists who deal with the topic ”and Bachmeier, who himself offers coaching on creativity, writes in his book on creativity techniques that there is no one definition because every definition of creativity is correct . Every author, scientist or whoever deals with the topic interprets creativity differently.
For the presentation of the following creative techniques, I mainly used the books
” Thinking tools of creativity and innovation – The small handbook of innovation methods ” by Florian Rustler, Midas Management Verlag 2018, 8th edition
“ Creativity Techniques — How you can promote your creativity and thereby get brilliant ideas ” by Richard Bachmeier, 1st edition 2018, self-published
Apply creativity techniques: goodbye creativity killers!
In order to be able to use creativity techniques successfully, you should make sure to exclude “creativity killers” from the outset. These include
- Mental blocks
- blocking statements
- external circumstances
Thinking blocks can arise from a wrong attitude towards problems, too little courage or self-confidence, impatience or fear in the case of peer pressure. A certain closeness to new things and a lack of time can also promote thinking blocks. The same goes for writing, by the way. My colleague Maike has a helpful blog post on how to solve writer’s block .
As blocking statements, sentences such as “a good idea, but…”, “we have always / never done it like this…” or “that is not part of our area of responsibility” can negatively influence the entire creative process. Therefore, when it comes to creativity techniques, everything is allowed in the beginning!
External circumstances do not have a positive effect if, for example, the rules of technology are not adhered to, an evaluation of the ideas starts too early, individual participants do not feel comfortable or you are completely overtired. Individuals who overlay the discussions or who are above the mass of participants in the company hierarchy can also have a negative impact on the creative process.
What are creativity techniques suitable for?
There is a suitable technique for any kind of brainstorming and many of the existing creativity techniques can then be added. There are so many different creativity techniques that I would like to introduce you to those that I classify as quick and useful for work in content marketing.
Applying Creativity Techniques: 7 Techniques for Content Marketing
In most marketing departments, time is money and for creativity techniques there is at most enough time to try them out during a workshop. This is exactly why the following creative techniques may be suitable for you.
Brainwriting as a 6-3-5 method
As a “silent brainstorming technique”, the 6-3-5 method is one of the brainwriting techniques. The name of the technology, which was developed by Bernd Rohrbach, can be traced back to 6 people, 3 ideas and 5 cycles and is carried out as follows:
- Step: The problem or the initial situation is formulated.
- Step: Each participant enters their first three ideas in the adjacent columns on the worksheet. So that this doesn’t eat up too much time, you can also set a time limit and, for example, allow five minutes each to write down the ideas.
The most important thing in this step: The ideas must be self-explanatory.
- The sheet with the first three ideas is passed on to the neighbor in the same direction by all participants.
- Now you try to build on the already existing ideas in the field below, to supplement them or to develop them further.
- After five minutes the sheet is passed on again until 5 cycles are over or the sheet is full.
- Now you have a bunch of ideas that you can evaluate and use to solve problems.
The greatest danger with this method is too much time. Long deliberation can lead to initial, spontaneous ideas being discarded. Therefore, the time restriction mentioned above can be helpful.
Good to know: The ideal group size is 6 people. The creativity technique can also be implemented with more participants and fewer cycles. For example, we also achieved great results with 11 participants and three cycles.
The creativity technique of the 5 whys was invented by Toyota product system developer Tachii Ōno to make problem solving obvious and possible. Tachii Ōno was of the opinion that problems usually cannot be solved because too few or the wrong questions are asked. His idea: ask “Why” five times in a row and the solution becomes obvious.
An example will probably make it easier to understand how the technology works:
Problem: I don’t know how to write a post that is suitable for Valentine’s Day.
- Because I’ve never written anything for Valentine’s Day.
- Because I don’t deal with it
- Because I think it’s a waste day
- Because it’s just money-making by the flower shops and the chocolate candy industry.
- Because this day together with Mother’s Day is the main source of income.
So the solution could be to write an article about the sales of florists and chocolatiers on Valentine’s Day.
Good to know: This technique takes a bit of practice, but then it works in no time. It can be carried out alone on paper, in pairs in direct dialogue or moderated in a group.
Associations / stimulus words
Exercises with stimulus words or associations are very easy to implement. To do this, you look for a word from a book, a newspaper or a lexicon and write down everything you can think of and what you associate with this word. If you take part of your “problem” as a stimulus word, you will get many great ideas about your problem. For example, if you should develop an online campaign for a chocolate cake to-go, then you could split the problem into three words, namely “chocolate cake”, “to-go” and “online campaign” and associate it with all the words holds.
The whole thing also works if you come up with different terms, write them down on individual pieces of paper, shuffle these pieces of paper and draw one of them.
You can use different techniques in a group. A term is drawn or given and then everyone in turn has to name a term that he connects directly with the stimulus word or that is based on the association of the previous one.
Participant 1: swimming
Participant 2: mussels
Participant 3: Vacation
-> Associated with the stimulus word
Keyword: swimming pool
Participant 1: ice
Participant 2: strawberry flavor
Participant 3: Grandma’s birthday cake
-> Associated with the association of the predecessor.
Good to know: The faster you express your associations in the group, the more spontaneous the answers are. With a little practice, your chain of associations will get faster and faster.
This creativity technique is an advanced technique that is helpful in developing further ideas for certain ideas.
- Step: The problem is known, defined and formulated.
- Step: Find a picture or an object that has absolutely nothing to do with the problem and is in no way related.
- Step: Now write down three to four properties of the object or the picture.
- Step: Try to put these characteristics in connection with your problem and to force a connection between your problem and the characteristics and to obtain possible solutions.
Good to know: The picture or object should serve as inspiration and basis for concrete ideas.
Example: How can we improve our washing machine?
A straw is chosen as a forced connection
Ideas for improving the washing machine could look like this, for example:
- Develop a particularly thin washing machine for narrow niches,
- to develop a particularly small washing machine for small kitchens and bathrooms
- a washing machine in which the wastewater is directly converted back into drinking water through a recycling system
- produce a washing machine entirely without plastic
- launch a washing machine that has a special wash cycle for cocktail stains
Here you can find great ideas if you are not yet really on the topic. Therefore, this technique is particularly suitable at the beginning of projects. It is used to identify problems, goals, challenges and wishes. And this is how it works:
Make a list of desires, challenges, and goals, and start with each sentence
- “It would be great, if…”
- “I wish that…”
- “Wouldn’t it be great if …”
In relation to the problem, goals or problems can be identified quickly.
Example: The problem with your shop is the website.
- “I would like the page to load faster.”
- “It would be nice if at least half of those who abandoned shopping carts turned into buyers.”
- “I would like the homepage to be more modern and contemporary.”
Good to know: The list can be created either alone or together during group work. In the group everyone can first write down a list for themselves and then the results are compared. The latter can clearly show in the evaluation where several participants in the creativity technique may see the same challenges or want to pursue similar goals.
With this technique, a problem is not only viewed holistically, but divided into various parameters. There are then different alternatives or possibilities for each of these parameters:
- Formulate a specific challenge or problem that you want to solve.
- Create a table with at least four columns. The first column is named “Parameter”, the other three as “Possibility 1”, “Possibility 2”, etc.
- Then you think about which parameters you need.
- Now collect alternatives for the parameters.
At the end, you have a table full of possibilities that can be combined as you like and open up new perspectives:
Then you can promote a video with entertaining content via blogger cooperation (green) or advertise an article for your target group via Facebook using an integrated test.
Good to know: A table that divides a recurring problem into parameters can, once created, be used again and again for inspiration and revised if necessary.
Future newspaper article
You create an imaginary newspaper article from the future with the aim of concretizing your thoughts and formulating a future ideal state of a project, your life, your professional future or something similar. This technique is particularly suitable for content marketing at the beginning of large projects.
- Imagine you’re a newspaper journalist and jump five years into the future from today.
- Write an article of no more than one page that describes how the problem was solved or your goal was achieved. The initial situation at the beginning and the result after a few years must be taken into account.
- As you write, you become more and more detailed and explain what exactly happened and how the goal was achieved and what each person contributed to it.
- Elaborate quotes from customers or testimonials show the external view of the result.
- Use images to turn your article into a real article.
- At the end you read through your article and feel inside yourself whether you want to start working and whether it gives you motivation.
Good to know: The article can be revised as often as desired. In the group, everyone can write an article first and at the end a joint article is written from it.
More information on creativity techniques
All of the creativity techniques described can be used alone or in a group for the content marketing process . Maybe you and your team need a little practice for one technique or another, that’s perfectly fine. In order to keep the regions that are responsible for creativity in your brain in training, Bachmeier recommends simply doing a pointless activity every now and then. For example, to take a piece of paper and a pen and start painting without knowing what you are actually painting. Listening to and enjoying music as well as concentrating on individual instruments within a song and tapping, dancing or bobbing is what he calls training opportunities to improve creativity.
What do you do when you feel like you’re not creative? If you have tips, tricks or creative techniques that you and your colleagues may even use regularly, please write them in the comments for our readers!