(Second of a three-part series on creativity vs. consistency in marketing. Part 1: How creative marketing can kill your business.)
Look up famous quotes about consistency, and it’s enough to make you depressed.
Oscar Wilde said, “Consistency is the hallmark of the unimaginative.”
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” according to Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead,” wrote Aldous Huxley.
Obviously, none of them ever went on a diet. Or grew a garden. Or ran a business.
But Anthony Robbins has. He gets it. “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives,” he said. “It’s what we do consistently.”
Creative marketing vs. consistent marketing
That’s what I mean when I say that consistent marketing is more important to your business growth than creative marketing. I’ve seen too many businesses put too much stock in creativity and too little in consistency.
I am not saying that creativity isn’t important. It is. Freshness and innovation is great. All for it. It gets eyeballs. People notice new and surprising. But it’s like the good-looking girl or guy with nothing going on upstairs. It’s nice at first, but there’s nothing to sustain the interest.
Give me a good set of solid marketing ideas fashioned into a consistent plan and applied consistently any time over a brilliant, highly creative tactic that is thrown at a marketing problem.
Take Legos for example. Two ads from the same company featured in an Adweek story look remarkably similar, yet they ran 35 years apart. They have built their company on brand consistency. Except for there being a boy in the first ad and a girl in the second, the ads are incredibly similar in composition and layout.
Porche is another brand that has remained consistent. Every Porche print ad for the last 15 years has been in the form of a single page with a half-page picture of a car and driver doing something fun and a short copy line about the joy of driving.
“Porsche subscribes to the KISS principle and, above all, does a much better job than many to avoid ‘creativity,’” says Theo Birkner at BizBurst.
So what can we learn from these examples?
First, consistency of brand.
You absolutely must be consistent in the way you present your business. That means the basics – such as your logo, type font, graphics, colors, photography, website, signage, messaging, tone – it must present a congruency with each other and a consistency across every media where you are found.
Branding consistency helps people recognize and trust you. It reassures them that you know what you are doing. Customers may not – no, they probably don’t — even realize that they are making business judgments based on consistent or inconsistent branding. It sounds so superficial and silly. Yet it’s real. Believe it.
Second, consistency of effort.
Just like with exercise, you’ve got to apply your marketing initiatives regularly. There’s no quick fix. You can’t fix a weak body overnight with a weekend of exercise, and you can’t fix your business with some fly-by-night miracle marketing sham.
Make a marketing plan. Work the marketing plan. Schedule it into your week. Your day.
Does this mean you shouldn’t change it up? Of course not. But most people quit way too soon. It takes time. Measure results over time, then adjust.
You’ve got to invest the money, time and tools to consistently market your business, or you don’t have a business. If you don’t have the time or staff, you must outsource it.
Interestingly, when you “just do it,” a funny thing happens. You stand the chance of become more creative with your marketing. There’s something about forcing yourself to act within boundaries that opens up the creative channels.
Listen to musician/song writer Jack White on the YouTube video on this page describe his creative process. As Jack says, “It’s not like every day of your life the clouds are going to part and the rays from heaven are going to come down and you’re going to write a song from it. Sometimes you’ve just got to get in there and force yourself to work and something good is going to come of it.”
Creative marketing is about generating and consistently applying great ideas that build your business. Without consistent marketing they won’t work. And if they don’t work, they aren’t creative.
(Next in the series: How content marketing balances creativity and consistency)