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Inspiration must not be confused with creativity and content marketers must learn how to take inspiration and give it a different spin, says Jason Miller, Head of Brand at ActiveCampaign.

Addressing viewers at the session on Creativity over Everything, and speaking to Akansha Srivastava, Editor, BuzzInContent, as a part of the BuzzInContent Conversations, Miller said, “I think it's dangerous to think about copying something directly but I think, if you look at some of the best campaigns in the world from the best marketers, I mean, there's a reason that they're the best at their craft. They've taken ideas before them and pushed them forward into new ideas.”

Miller said creativity can determine how you break through and it is the highest form of intelligence. Quoting Ann Handley, a key speaker, and CCO, MarketingProfs, he said, “Our bodies and brains are lazy, they would rather subscribe to the first easiest idea or solution, even if it's not the best. Our creativity is what calls that laziness out, challenges it, and says, wait one minute, is that all you got? Is that your best effort, your best work, your best self? And this perfectly sets up the argument for the importance of creativity.”

Explaining how important creativity is in today’s times, he said according to the World Economic Forum and their list of top most important skills in 2015, creativity barely cracked the top 10. “If you look at their list in 2020, creativity is number three. If you look further and dive into LinkedIn's report that came out this year, on the top soft skills in demand right now, creativity is number one. So I think it speaks volumes of creativity as a differentiator.”

However, according to Miller, creativity cannot be outsourced. “You can't outsource this, especially with someone who's not a long-term partner. I've seen organisations try to outsource creativity and it never works because, in the short-term relationship, that outsourced party really has no vested interest in long-term results. As content marketers, we need to slow down; we need to be more patient. This is not a volume game. It's a relevant game. It's a game of creativity to leverage that to break through and do something really remarkable,” he explained.

Asked how content marketers should upgrade skills, he said one can always learn how to be more creative. Miller said marketers need to understand how different marketing dimensions work together. “I wasn't really supposed to be a marketer by any means but when I got into tech marketing, I learned very quickly that you can't just be good at one thing; you have to grow, you have to understand how the different marketing disciplines work together. Am I an email marketing expert, not necessarily but I can write a hell of a subject line if I need to. Am I an SEO expert? No, but I understand really well how search impacts my content and how to be ranked for. I think it goes across the different marketing disciplines lead gen, lead nurturing, lead scoring, copywriting; all these things about how you can understand how these things fit together. If you can do that, it allows you to get a vision for how your content can impact not only across the funnel but also all across the organisation and all across this multi-channel approach that we should all be embracing. So I think the biggest thing is, you'll never stop learning,” he said.

Speaking about how marketers can bring creativity into categories that are technical, he said this question often comes up in B2B marketing. “When I started at Marketo, marketing automation was my topic, which is not the coolest topic in the world. It's very seemingly boring and technical, but the way that I approached it is, I brought a new sort of B2C perspective to B2B marketing. I brought these music analogies and that was very close to my heart and that I'm passionate about. I made very complex marketing scenarios relatable and memorable by relating them back to a music analogy, and it was fun and people learnt that people wanted to be close to that. So I don't think there are any excuses anymore,” he said.

“I don't think there's any excuse anymore for boring products. I think there're plenty of examples out there to take inspiration from, but at the end of the day, you're a content marketer, you're answering that number one question on your prospects' minds, you're solving problems. How can you take it from a different angle and use a creative approach that no one's ever thought of before and put a new spin on it? I guess you can borrow some ideas, find some inspiration, it's happening out there,” he said. 

Concluding, Miller recited a quote from the late singer George Michael, which always inspires him, and said, “I watch people who are not driven by creativity more and I think how dull it must be to produce the same kind of thing. If you don't feel you're reaching something new, then don't do it.”