"Where do you get the creativity for the ads you run on the radio?"
I doubt a week goes by where I am not asked at least one of those questions.
My stock response is that's the fun part of my job. Here is the real answer...
I love quotes. They inspire me. I type words into ThinkExist.com and just start reading. Sometimes a great quote is all I need to spark the engine.
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." -Pablo Picasso
I love to read. Fiction and non-fiction. Children's books and adult books. I wrote an entire book on hiring because of this line in the children's book Taran Wanderer (book #4 of The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.)
"Before you learn the craft, you must first learn the clay." -Annlaw Clay-Shaper
I listen. To music. To talk-radio. To interviews and podcasts. To comedians (I love comedians). I wrote a song after hearing a comedian's routine about road signs when he said...
"I saw a sign along the highway that said 'Gas Food' and decided I was no longer hungry. Glad I didn't stop. The next exit had a sign for a Gas Food Hospital." (-unknown)
Is creativity something you're born with, or something you learn? I think both. I think some people (like my sister) pop out of the womb with a talent that cannot be denied. I think the rest of us can learn creativity by learning to not be afraid of criticism and failure. I am bolstered by this quote...
"I haven't failed. I've found 10,000 ways that don't work." -Thomas Edison
I am also bolstered in my ad writing by this little exercise Roy H. Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads made me do...
Quick, write down the percentage of your traffic that is repeat business. Customers who come in time and time again. Now write down how much of your traffic is referral business. Customers who are in because one of your repeat business customers told them to stop by. What is left?
When I did this, I wrote down 60% for the repeat, and 25% for the referral. That left only 15% of my traffic that is location/advertising driven. When your advertising only accounts for 15% of your traffic, you can take some more risks and be a little more crazy.
Creativity for most of us is like a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it becomes. Writing this blog is like doing a dozen push-ups. Writing emails and Facebook posts is like taking a half-mile jog. Writing songs and books is like taking a spinning class or six. Writing a thirty-second ad that is interesting, tells a story, makes only one point, and connects emotionally is like doing 60-second planks ten times a day.
"I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter." -Blaise Pascal
And one last quote...
"Now you know the rest of the story." -Paul Harvey
PS One of my goals is to write a short story all from famous quotes by other people. That would sure take some creativity.
PPS I don't know if my percentages of repeat and referral business are accurate. They probably aren't. That's quite okay by me. I got what I needed out of the exercise - to take more risks with my advertising. Consider it just one of those 10,000 ideas Edison learned from.