Cordelia Brabbs doscovers how training can help drive innovation among marketers
"Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different," said Nobel prize winner Albert SzentGyorgyi in 1937.
In today's world of competition and over-capacity; marketers are realising that they must indeed think differently in order to ensure their brands thrive and survive.
At a time when it is hard for companies to differentiate their products from those of their rivals, it is vital for marketers to find fresh ways to position and sell their brands. With marketing budgets under pressure they must seek imaginative ways to put their resources to effective and economical use.
But marketers rarely have time to use their imaginations. In shrinking marketing departments, they are working longer hours and are forced to focus on the logistics of brand performance, particularly on measurement.
"In the marketing industry there is not enough focus on bringing out the eccentricity in people, mostly because marketers are often over-burdened by functions," says Carolyn Managh, co-founder of new French-based innovations school Foundation.
Making the right choice
So when marketers come to deal with an agency and select creative work, they may not pick the best campaign for their brand. Nor may they have the creative knowledge to be able to push their agencies for better work, or to know how a cheaper, more creative campaign may have just as much impact, if not more, than a large one. And this is where training can make a difference.
One only has to look at companies such as Coca-Cola GB, which has turned to creative hot-shops such as Mother and Soul, to realise that some of the bigger players have grasped how important it is for marketers to understand how to use agencies.
"Clients, especially younger ones, are under more pressure to choose work that performs, but have less time to consider ideas," says Simon Kershaw, creative director of direct marketing agency Craik Jones. "Those that don't work for the big FMCG companies don't get any training in using agencies, and therefore don't get the best work out of them."
Nigel Temple, a Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) course director who runs sessions on 'Thinking and Creativity Skills for Marketers', says: "If you have a marketing manager who doesn't give much creative input, the agency has to rely on telepathy."
Some people would argue that creativity cannot be taught -- you either have it or you don't--and that no tutor will be able to conjure up that quality with in you if it's not already there. But the institutions and agencies offering creative training recognise this.
Rather than trying to teach creativity, they suggest techniques to help you develop and understand your own creativity, or place you in an environment where you can stretch your imagination away from the pressures of work.
The CIM also :offers a course entitled 'Becoming an Innovative Marketer'. The Thinking and Creativity Skills for Marketers' session promises that delegates will leave with an ability to generate highly creative ideas on demand. Techniques include mind-mapping, measuring creative ability, memory-enhancing and overcoming mental blocks. The course is designed to instil an understanding of the new product development process, innovation and concept generation.
Foundation (see box) shows marketers how to value ideas, while trying to alter their attitude to, and knowledge of, innovation. Managh claims the school's location is as important as what it teaches. "For people to truly learn they need to be taken outside their world. …