Can you commercialise your creativity?

Tuesday, 27th November 2018

Blog by pro-manchester Communications Manager, Mel Hill

82% of executives say creativity is vital to a business, would you agree?

Our latest sector event saw our creative sector group focus on commercialising creatives.

Hosted by our Creative & Digital Sector Co-chair, Dan Nolan, Managing Director – theEword, our panel included: Mike Griffiths, Deputy Creative Director – seventy7; Derek Boyles, former Head of Creative – ShopDirect; Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, Director – Making You Content and Michelle Henshaw, Founder – The Batshit Crazy Foundation.

So, what is creativity?

Well, according to our panel it’s about:
• Problem solving
• Coming up with ideas for the whole business – not just the marketing and creative side of things
• Bringing ideas to life

Creativity is part of every single business. Whether it’s the creativity of the initial concept of creating it, redecorating your office space or you’re a multi-award winning creative agency, each business needs creative minds at the forefront, driving ideas and bringing them to fruition.

But what benefits are there for businesses to embrace more traditionally creative approaches, and more importantly, how can this benefit you commercially?

Kelly Gilmour-Grassam has recently set up her own agency. Originally starting as a freelancer, Kelly built her clientele so much so, that she has begun to grow her business; Making You Content.

Kelly says: “Business objectives aren’t always relevant to how we commercialise our creativity. Often businesses will come to us and say: ‘we need to sell more’ but what we look at is how we can create content that helps them to achieve this. We do this by getting people onto their site, getting people engaging with their brand and in turn getting them to approach our client for help.

“The problem with our role specifically, which is content writing, is that everyone thinks they can get someone to do it in-house. They don’t understand that this is a skillset, just like design or accounts, you need to be a good writer for people to want to read your content.”

Our host, Dan Nolan discussed CEO’s roles in the creative department. Often the creative aspect of a business is seen as the fun part. It’s the forward-facing part of the business, so naturally, a business owner is going to be precious about this team’s output. The problem here, however, is that executives often see themselves as creatives.

“Your CEO wouldn’t get a plumber in, look at what they’re doing and ask them to put a ball socket in another place,” says Dan. “The difficult thing as a creative is that everyone wants to believe they are creative. While most people are creative in their own way, they’re most certainly not all designers, writers and social media experts for example.

“It often begs the question – why did you employ me in the first place?”

Mike Griffiths has over 16 years’ experience as a creative, now working at Manchester agency seventy7 as Deputy Head of Creative. Mike believes businesses struggling to embrace creativity need to have trust: “You can’t gain respect if you don’t have trust. As a creative, or anyone at all, in your job role you want respect for what you are doing.

“People in businesses need to realise that creativity doesn’t just take one day to do a job. When you’re impatient and don’t trust in your creatives, you end up taking the project back to someone who isn’t creative. You need to have the person with the ideas involved in the brainstorming process.”

Derek Boyles is former Head of Creative at Shop Direct. Having worked in the retail sector for over 20 years, living through the digital transformation of the industry and the birth of e-commerce, he has noticed huge differences in the way business in the US treat their creatives.

“The value of creatives in the US is hugely different. They’re often the first people invited to a brainstorming session because of the way their brains approach situations. Here we engage creatives when we have the idea, instead of getting the ideas person who knows your business inside out.”
Michelle Henshaw is a mentor, coach, speaker and author having worked in the creative world for 35 years, she shares her learnings with her company, Batshit Crazy, encouraging creativity, collaboration and bravery.

“I worked in the creative industry in the 90s and was surrounded people who were bonkers. That’s missing now in this business, as there’s too much focus on the money and justification of things, and not enough money on embracing the creativity.

“Creativity was the focus and then it was “the suits” as I call them who made the money. Creativity to me is that crucial collaboration between the whole business. For it to work, you need to eliminate the ‘us and them’ mentality.”

So what advice would our panellists give to a business struggling to embrace creativity?

Quite simply:
• Trust
• Bring the whole team on the creative journey
• Take control and set the agenda
• Don’t be afraid

A great event, we’re sure our delegates will agree.

Huge thank you to Barclay’s Eagle Labs for hosting and to Dan Nolan for chairing today’s panel with his usual wit and charm. For more sector group events, please click here.