“Alison, you’re too creative to get stuck in a job like this one,” said my father when, at age 19, I shared an interest in law school (following in his footsteps).
My Dad didn’t give a lot of advice growing up – his parenting style was leading by example and letting me manage my failures, decisions, and successes (but always being there when needed). I try, but am not always as successful, at doing the same with my children.
Creativity will always be a part of me; but it was a lot easier as a kid/young adult – work on school projects (I was the kid you hated who over-achieve using stickers, glitter, and visual aids), write poetry, take an art class.
As an adult, I became swallowed whole by responsibility: doing chores, paying bills, raising kids, health struggles. It’s easier to slog through the workday, collect a paycheck, go through the motions…Groundhog Day it.
But I found ways, mostly through cooking and baking, to be creative. I threw some awesome theme parties for my daughters when they were small. (I am the mom you hate – decorating and planning every detail of an authentic pirate-themed treasure hunt.)
And then the challenge of professional creativity. And if you’re a creative type, to not have an outlet Monday through Friday slowly eats away at your soul – you know exactly what I’m talking about. Customer-led marketing has continued to feed, challenge, and inspire my creativity.
WAYS TO FEED CREATIVITY IN CUSTOMER-LED MARKETING
- Find the Time – not a cop-out answer…if you don’t make the time, what’s the point of this list? Heck, I should be making budget updates and editing new collateral, but I paused to write this post. I needed it.
- Award Programs – Are these programs a ton of effort? Yes! So, reward yourself (and customers) by doing a fun program alongside your formal one to recognize customers in special ways beyond their products/services. Instead recognize what they’ve done, or better, who they are as people. I still have a thank you note a customer sent after I awarded her a doggie spa package and the honor of “Best Dog Mom.” Barbara Thomas
- Networking Events – In addition to CABs, where there’s a tight timeline, concrete agenda, and formal approach, create networking events. Allow customers to connect casually – stay away from stuffy restaurants or hotel ballrooms; instead, pick a “paint your own pottery” studio, a funky coffee shop, or find a volunteering opportunity. The chance to “talk shop” while having fun makes it useful and memorable. Melissa Brown, Steven Woodward, Heidi Williams, Sam Berry
- Customer Advocacy Programs – While the brand of your program must stay somewhat aligned to corporate brand, it can also have its own identity. Have a mascot and/or cool name, create engaging activities (see above) just for advocates – when you stand out, people want to step up (and participate). Captivate Collective
- Customize for Customers – I get to spend lots of time on this right now; I LOVE it. Part of my customer-led marketing strategy is working with larger accounts to help showcase customer accomplishments. I work alongside our customers to build educational presentations that help them with immediate business challenges (e.g., maximizing review content, showcasing value to leadership, better aligning with other marketers). I get to color outside the lines a bit with my presentations and it fills my creative bucket.
Please, add to this list: How are you being creative in your marketing role?!
Want to keep following the journey? Follow me on LinkedIn for all kinds of information, resources, and observations around customer-led marketing (and the occasional pet, kid, or vacation photo): https://www.linkedin.com/in/alison-a-bukowski
Note: Today’s adventure photo might not my best “showstopper” cake, but it’s my favorite because it went with the aforementioned pirate party (cake has hidden treasure inside); it’s one of my fondest memories of my daughter.