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Picture: 123RF/Corey A Ford
Picture: 123RF/Corey A Ford

In the advertising industry, creatives are the manufacturers of the product their companies sell. Yet too often they are divorced from the financial responsibility of their role.

Escaping far too many of them is the fact that creativity has the power to unlock more than just novelty. Now, more than ever, with tighter belts across consumer segments, creativity needs to be used to create value beyond the purchase. It needs to inspire consumers to part with their hard-earned money in exchange for value that is greater than the security of cash in hand.

Rise of the experience economy

These days, commerce is everywhere and always on. Brands can no longer be centred on a product or service, and commerce has become more than a transaction. The way we need to engage with consumers is by putting people at the centre to craft the most innovative and valuable commerce experiences.

Brands of the future will move transaction into immersion and identity curation, becoming experiences that we buy. They will consider the whole systemic interaction that a customer has with them and leverage every brand contact point to build a better value chain. They will also need to have a deep understanding of the behavioural economics of their customers’ intentions and motivations. This experience economy will be the new face of capitalism.

Thinking like a commercial creative

The advertising industry has become obsessed with itself, losing sight of what and who it aims to serve. And in the greater world of business, we are running far behind by ignoring much of the data in front of us. We opt to judge our “creative excellence” by award shows (run by ourselves) rather than how consumers vote with their wallets.

The creative leaders who will thrive in the experience economy will build teams that have that trifecta of commercial, strategic and creative thinking.

Four tips for creative commerce:

  1. Start with what you know works (the basics) and then move towards what inspires.
  2. Get creative with merchandising: Make it beautiful. Make it interesting. Make it shareable.
  3. Cement sales at the point of the highest affinity: When a consumer is engaged and inspired, close the sale at this emotional peak.
  4. Embrace feedback systems: Insights should not just be used to enhance future communications, but also to inform business operations in general.

As creatives, we need to start looking in unusual places to find solutions that will matter. These are the ideas that create interest, innovation and get more customers to engage more often. This is the lifeblood of any brand economy in the world today.

* Matthew van der Valk is the executive creative director at VMLY&R


The creative leaders who will thrive in the experience economy will build teams that have that trifecta of commercial, strategic and creative thinking.


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