The concept of creativity
is over 50,000 years old and has always been an inherent talent
in Homo sapiens -- human beings, as we know them now. It was
not an inherent talent in Neanderthal man. Michael Ray, a
Stanford professor who teaches a course on creativity, says
that creativity exists within everyone. He believes that when
people can't tap into their creativity, that doesn't mean
it doesn't exist. Instead, it means that the creativity is
being suppressed by what he terms as the voice of judgment
-- what I term as the inner censor. That's what gets the blame
for destroying self-esteem.
believes there are five qualities of creativity: intuition,
will, joy, strength and compassion. Four tools stimulate
those qualities -- faith in your own creativity, absence
of judgment, precise observation and penetrating questions.
He and I agree wholeheartedly that creativity is not one
great eureka moment that produces a brilliant idea. Instead,
it is a way of life.
creative professional knows very well that true creativity
is not the result of inspiration, but instead comes from
hard work and focus. I've authored or co-authored 29 books
so far and not one of them has come from a moment of inspiration.
If I waited for that flash of inspiration, I'd still be
laboring over page one of my first book. The idea is to
be able to create by reaching deep into yourself and not
to wait for a bright light to flash inside your head. If
you do, you're in for a long, dark wait.
Your job as a
guerrilla is to come up with a winning -- one that identifies
your business and communicates something about the quality
that you offer, expressed in terms that suggest a benefit.
If you're looking for creativity heaven, you'll find it
right inside of yourself. And you'll see that as your meme
will be the result of your creativity, it will also serve
as the nucleus of your creativity for all your future marketing.
Would the great
artists, musicians, dancers and writers been creative guerrilla
marketers? My guess is that they would E2 80 93 because
they did not wait for inspiration, but instead, knew where
to find it inside of themselves.
A powerful meme
would be of extreme value to a dotcom company because it
would make their offline marketing far more effective at
being remembered, motivating people to access a site, and
demonstrating the primary benefit that the company offers.
But many dotcom business owners are so wrapped up in technology
that they are used to finding their inspiration outside
of themselves rather than within. After all, it's outside
of themselves technology has always resided. But the rules
are different with true guerrilla creativity. It resides
inside of them -- if only they'd look long and hard enough.
With the telecommunications
wars being waged with ferocity and non-stop telemarketing,
all the phone companies have been striving for a point of
difference. My guess is that some copywriter in some ad
agency was one of many working to give his or her client
an edge. Research showed that one of the benefits that could
be offered by a phone company was clarity of sound.
most likely pondered this concept and then tried to recall
how people refer to clear sound. "So quiet, you could hear
a pin drop," came to mind. That spurred the birth of Sprint's
meme, a graphic depiction of a pin dropping next to a telephone.
As with many memes, it did require a bit of explanation,
which Sprint did with its TV commercials.
Since that time,
Sprint has been using its meme wisely and consistently,
in true guerrilla fashion. Ideally, they E2 80 99ll be able
to stay with it for a long time, or at least until research
shows that clear sound is now taken for granted. Unlike
Y2K, which was a short-lived meme, the pin dropping can
be a meme with longevity E2 80 93 the best and most powerful
The tale of Sprint
is a tale of creativity in action. You can be certain that
the imaginary copywriter was not aiming to win awards or
accolades. Instead, the motivation was to communicate a
meaningful benefit to consumers, something instantly communicated
by the visual of a pin dropping. In just a flash, viewers
and readers got the point -- no pun intended. This kind
of creativity is rare. But it's the kind you'll need in
our increasingly competitive marketing environment.
is so misunderstood in marketing circles, astonishing sum
s of money are wasted. Truly creative marketing does not
have to be attractive, but should come on strong to key
prospects, attractiveness be damned. It takes into consideration
the lifetime value of a customer rather than the instant
gratification of a quick sale.
Jay Conrad Levinson
is the author of the "Guerrilla Marketing" series of books,
the best-selling marketing series in history, now in 37
languages and required reading in many MBA programs. His
website is at