1 The Purpose of Creativity Not Producing Art but Changing Human Behavior
THE PREHISTORIC MAN Uba spent all day in the drizzling rain trying to catch a fish because his family desperately needed food. But Uba couldn’t grab a fish from the stream, though he occasionally got his hands on one. Frustrated and weak from hunger, he just couldn’t grab any fish firmly enough before it slithered from his hands and returned to the stream. Worse yet, the drizzle turned to a downpour, and Uba was forced to seek shelter in a nearby cave.
When his eyes became accustomed to the dark, he noticed a series of paintings in the cave. One depicted a deer. Another showed a godlike figure.
But it was the third that captured his attention. There on the cave wall was a simple drawing of a man holding a long stick. At the end of the stick, a fish was impaled. Suddenly Uba got the idea! Within an hour he returned to his family carrying five fish, all of which he had caught with a sharpened stick. Uba’s family was saved by a meme.
A meme is a self-explanatory symbol, using words, action, sounds, or, in this case, pictures that communicate an entire idea. Uba may have discovered history’s first meme.
Memes can do a lot more than save a family. Memes can save a business as well and propel it into a high-profit mode. Guerrilla creativity means enlisting the wondrous power of memes in your marketing.
What you don’t know about creativity What you don’t know about creativity subtracts from your potential profits every year. What you are about to learn will add to your profits — now and forever. It’s something as foreign to you as the Internet was back in the 1970s — but every bit as important as the Internet is now when it comes to your company’s profitability.
This book is about creativity in marketing — guerrilla creativity. Creativity in marketing is very different from creativity in the arts. Memes in marketing are about profits. And guerrilla creativity has at its core a meme. That’s why the star of this book, and the key to true guerrilla creativity, is a meme.
The wheel is a meme. The Green Giant is a meme. You’ll become aware of many more memes as you read on, but mainly you’ll discover the astonishing lack of memes in marketing. Bad as this is, it’s a great opportunity for guerrillas.
Guerrilla creativity tells you it’s time for your company to have its own meme. Guerrilla creativity suggests that if you get in your prospects’ faces with your meme, they will make it part of their family.
What memes do
Memes travel. Memes spread. Memes are viral. In fact, in scientific circles they’re referred to as “mind viruses.” Memes are simple to create. And memes can goose your company’s profitability, not to mention civilization itself.
Memes save you money because they implant a message that’s repeated to the point where people are clear on what you offer and you don’t have to constantly change your marketing campaign. They break through the sensory overload that increases every day. The bigger that overload, the more you need a meme for your company.
Richard Dawkins, an Oxford biologist who coined the word meme in 1976 in his book The Selfish Gene, defines it as a basic unit of cultural transmission or imitation. Guerrilla marketers define it as the essence of an idea, expressed as a symbol or set of words, an action or a sound . . . or all of these.
You must know three things about the meme: 1. It’s the lowest common denominator of an idea, a basic unit of communication.
2. It can alter human behavior, and in guerrilla marketing that means motivating people to buy whatever the guerrilla offers.
3. It is simplicity itself, easily understandable in a matter of seconds.
Memes make perfect partners for marketing campaigns, in which ideas must stand apart in an ocean of other ideas and be communicated instantly — or else.
Within two seconds a meme conveys who you are and why someone should buy from you instead of a competitor. It also can trigger an emotional response and generate a desire.
Meme power The essence of guerrilla creativity is creating marketing that has meme power. Guerrilla creativity is dreaming up a symbol or words, actions or sounds, that convey a concept anybody can understand instantly and easily.
Creativity in the arts is about enjoyment, self-expression, and beauty. Creativity in marketing is not about these aesthetic concerns but about profits, selling, motivating. Creativity in marketing is about how your product or service improves lives.
Your profits will rise if you create a simple meme for your business, then promote it for years, decades — centuries if possible.
This can be doone with words (Lean Cuisine), pictures (the Marlboro cowboy), sounds (the “Ho-ho-ho” of the Jolly Green Giant), actions (Clydesdales pulling the Budweiser wagon), or imagery (flames depicting Burger King’s flame-broiled hamburgers). Memes have been the architects of human behavior since the beginning of time. The wheel was a major improvement in transportation and conveyance, but it was also a meme because it was a self-explanatory symbol representing a complete idea. Once you see a wheel, you immediately know how to use it and why it’s so useful. No explanation is necessary.
Where memes are born
Memes are born through knowledge and research. They work their wonders by engaging the unconscious minds of your prospects. Although they’ve been around since the beginning of humankind, and even since the beginning of life on earth — since life forms often leave behind meme-like signals such as half-eaten shrubbery, scat and shells, which trigger behaviors in other life forms — memes are relatively new to marketing. I know that meme is a new word to you, but then again, so was the word Internet a scant decade ago.
Right now I urge you to put aside for a moment what you think you know about creativity. Transfer your focus from the kind of creativity it takes to create beauty and splendor, symphonies and literature, dance and sculpture, and refocus on the production of profits.
Creativity in the arts enlightens, delights, moves, and satisfies. Creativity in marketing changes human behavior. Creativity that accomplishes this goal is true guerrilla creativity.
The primary purpose of guerrilla creativity is to instill enough trust and confidence in your offering that people will be motivated to purchase it — the end result being profits for your company. Yes, guerrilla creativity does employ art to accomplish the goals of business. Marketing uses nearly all the art forms — writing, art, design, music, dance, acting — but it uses them for a different purpose than that pursued by a Shakespeare or a Baryshnikov. I believe that the great masters in art, music, and literature might have been geniuses at guerrilla creativity. Still, Ernest Hemingway observed that writing advertising is a lot more difficult than writing for the pure sake of art. It does seem a lot simpler to create something that inspires a person than to create something that will persuade that same person to part with his or her hard-earned dollars.
Creativity of the guerrilla variety combines the creativity of the arts with the science of human behavior and the business of generating profits — all in a quest to get people to change their minds and sincerely want what you offer.
The purpose of guerrilla creativity Guerrilla creativity must inform rather than entertain. In artistic creativity, an error can be covered with white paint and