When I started reading the occasional business book 30 years ago, the businesses being written about were companies like IBM, GM, and AT&T. They were liked because they were technical and expansive. And they generally did well.

Years later, the paradigm shifted. The praiseworthy businesses were companies like Hewlett-Packard and Honda that had great organizations. Quality circles were all the rage back then, and the companies that had good models seemed to prosper.

Today, creativity has climbed to the top of the totem pole of business virtue. Companies like Apple have stolen the show.

But is that good?

As a person who thinks of himself as creative, I’m quite happy to be working in the idea-marketing industry, where creativity is king.

But I try not to love creativity too much. Because I’ve learned that it is not the object of business, but just a powerful skill that can help a business grow.

If you care too much about creativity, you run the risk of spending time and money on ideas that have little or no chance of driving profits. You can see this happening in many of the brand advertising and social media campaigns that are popular these days.

That is why, when consulting with my clients, I make sure that each hot, new idea is put aside to cool down a bit. Then we sit down and ask three pragmatic questions.

 

  • Will this be useful to my customers?

  • Will they see it as useful?

  • And the most important one: Will they actually buy it?

Ask these questions the next time you get excited about a hot new product or marketing idea.

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