It’s that time of year when many of us manage to grab a few days in the sun. Whilst on holiday visiting friends in the US, the change of scenery allows me to think freely as to how business owners can go about creating a strong competitive advantage. How do you take the first step towards developing the bigger picture? Visualising and articulating a vision for your business will deliver clarity of message and differentiate you from your competitors.
Business marketing often evolves like a work of art where the artist is experimenting, redrafting and creating something new. The greatest plans are ever-evolving and this developing process can, once created, be adjusted to evolve into the next masterpiece.
In fact, art has always influenced marketing and advertising throughout history – for example, Andy Warhol’s Absolut vodka posters in his totally unique ‘pop art’ style.
The following approach can be used as a basis every part of your marketing to help you through the entire marketing strategic process from the initial plan and ideas through to the final delivery and consistent communication.
Creativity and innovation cannot exist without an understanding of what’s going on in the world – creativity doesn’t exist in a bubble. Remember Picasso’s adage of ‘stealing’ from other artists; use the ideas around you. Ideas are developed, new concepts and plans committed to paper in the form of a marketing plan. This should define your vision and narrow your target markets.
Applying a strong ground, knowing your audience, understanding what makes your business unique and setting your budget, allows you the freedom to begin exploring a new canvas of opportunity.
Just like layers of paint, add layers of depth. Your marketing approach should use all channels of communication. This can pay dividends in meeting your objectives as it helps to deliver your vision in the broadest way to the greatest audience.
Consider how to frame it. Pilot specific elements to gain a response that identifies different audience needs. Tell stories of the client problems and how the solutions you delivered resolved them. Leonardo da Vinci’s art tells compelling new concepts. The Foetus in the Womb describes the human condition in a nutshell.
When you are happy with your composition, plan, and schedule, unveil it for public view. Appeal to audiences’ emotions – this is far more powerful than an over-rationalised approach guided by focus groups and committee. For example, Robert Rauschenberg, ‘Erased de Kooning Drawing’, is a great example, where he was curious to know if a work of art could be created by removing marks from a surface with an eraser, rather than adding them with a pencil. Controversial but memorable.
Test your plans – vary its display. From these pilots, a tool kit of activities drips fed over time will give you a palette to deliver various core messages. The trick is to put in place an ‘exciting’ palette of various initiatives to create support for sales, awareness, and growth.
Once your work is on display, stand back and listen to your critics. Their views will enable you to adapt rapidly to change. Banksy has always wanted his art to be available to everyone, he has shunned traditional galleries for his exhibitions. Try something new and don’t be bound by what is the norm. And don’t procrastinate: unless you implement your plan, how do you know where it will work or fail? Once you have identified where change is needed and taken steps to implement it, revisit and revamp your strategy.
On finalising your completed plan, put the finished masterpiece in the public arena and let your audience move around the space, viewing all that is on offer. Your success will come when your unique piece of art speaks to someone personally.
Our audiences are defined by a certain context. As marketers, we should understand that context and know-how to address it in a surprising way. The point at which your creation can become priceless.