Six Ways to Boost Your Creativity

Six Ways to Boost Your Creativity

A few months ago the results of a study were released that looked at the impact of music on creativity at work.

The researchers conducted three experiments and the subjects listened to:

  1. Music in an unfamiliar foreign language,
  2. Music with no lyrics at all, and
  3. Music with familiar lyrics.

Whilst listening to one of these types of music the participants had to complete a set of tests. Or rather Compound Remote Associate Tasks, CRATs, if you’re interested in details. These tests are apparently good gauges of measuring creative thinking.

The result of the study was that listening to music at work stunts your creativity!

“To conclude, the findings here challenge the popular view that music enhances creativity, and instead demonstrate that music, regardless of the presence of semantic content (no lyrics, familiar lyrics, or unfamiliar lyrics), consistently disrupts creative performance in insight problem solving as measured by CRATs.”


This might be a scientific experiment and you can’t argue with science and data. But here at Clever Marketing we’re big fans of music whilst we work. And we’re still creative too, in our business development, design and digital marketing too. After all, we are Clever Marketing and we have a set of values and a reputation to stand up to.

So if we have studio full of people listening to punk, rock and alternative on BBC Radio 6 Music, loops of dub techno mixes on YouTube and Charles Aznavour on personal headsets, then how do you stimulate creativity when it’s being impeded by music? Allegedly.

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.”

Chuck Close – American artist, painter & photographer.

1. Exercise makes you more creative

It has been a common-held belief that regular exercise encourages creativity. They, whoever they are, say that you’ll find a “sound mind in a sound body”. There are studies to prove the link between exercise and the mind. For reference, read the 2013 study on The impact of physical exercise on convergent and divergent thinking.

If you can’t exercise fully, by taking a 30-minute bike ride or a stroll to work, then at least park your car in the furthest away spot, use the stairs not the lift, get up every hour and take a break and use the whole of your lunch hour to get up and go out. Walk and talk. Walk and eat. Don’t just sit there, do something!

As the famous psychologist Friedrich Nietzsche once said:

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”.

But don’t just take a dead dude’s word for it, Stanford University research shows that walking can boost your creativity by up to 60%.

So get as much exercise as you can. Your creative muse will benefit greatly from it.

2. Embrace failure

Nobody likes to make mistakes, but neither should you fear them. After all, how are you going to know what’s good when you don’t know what bad looks like? This is where you need to be allowed to make mistakes so that you can learn quickly. Failing stimulates the impetus to look for solutions.

Being prepared for failure is a key part of the creative process. For example, one of our designers recently created some bold and fresh logo designs for a client but also included some designs that we thought were “a bit 1980s”. Despite the opinions of the team, the client picked the designs that we didn’t think they’d actually go for! Anyway, have you ever heard the phrase “there’s no such thing as failure only feedback”?

Learn what works and what doesn’t work. It’s better to have ideas than no ideas.

For further reading see the BBC opinion piece How creativity is helped by failure

3. Do different things. Or is that do things differently?

As the old saying goes “Do what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you’ve always got”. If you want to stimulate creativity then open up to new ideas. That doesn’t necessarily mean to have to do anything big or expensive like going to faraway exotic places, just do something that you wouldn’t normally do. Embrace new, odd and different things. Even something as seemingly mundane as sitting in a different seat than “your favourite place” will quite literally give you a different perspective on things.

The same goes for routines and habits; break them. Then remake them. By going a different way to work, using a different tool, reading books you wouldn’t normally give the time of day to, using different ingredients; you’ll be stimulating parts of the brain that you wouldn’t normally fire up.

In 2009 one of our team attended a web developers conference where his friend, a designer, was about to stand up on stage to speak to his audience about web design. Five minutes before the lecture the web designer asked our digital marketing guy if he could go up on stage with him and answer any questions on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). With no prep, our resident SEO consultant just said “Yeah, why not!” and thoroughly enjoyed his new experience and baptism of fire.

Opening your mind to new ideas and experiences expands your skill set and that can only be a good thing. Challenge yourself!

4. Get some downtime

We’re all pressed for time these days, deadlines are in every project timeline. Tight timescales can cause stress and pressure. Some people may thrive under pressure but then many others don’t.

So, whichever camp you’re in, boost your creativity and make sure you get some downtime. Take a break, relax, go for that inspirational walk. Better still, at the end of the day take a complete breather and do something else. When you go to bed relax and revisit that problem you were going to address earlier. Sleep on it. Quite literally.

In 1993 psychologist Diedre Barrett PhD at Harvard Medical School published A Study of Dream Incubation for Problem Solving. The study showed that half of students who thought about an imminent problem just before they went to sleep dreamed of their problem whilst a quarter of students actually woke up with a solution!

5. Capture your ideas

Did you wake up with a brilliant solution to the problem you went to bed thinking about? If you’re one of the lucky twenty five percent who had a light-bulb moment first thing in the morning, then write it down. How many times have you had a great dream, a great idea and the fleeting vision and idea is soon forgotten? It happens so often.

So keep paper and pen (or pencil) to hand – by your bedside.

If you daydream then be a true creative and carry your notebook with you wherever you go. If a pad and ultra cool clutch pencil are too much in this digital age then use your phone. Take notes, get a drawing app out, scribble, capture the moment.

6. Commune with Nature

No, really! By connecting with your inner hippy you will find benefits to your creativity. We’re not talking about dropping LSD and bringing psychedelia into your corporate design projects, man!

A 2002 research paper entitled The Potential Role of the Physical Environment in Fostering Creativity found that participants who had a view of the natural environment and were surrounded by natural materials were more creative than those who lacked a view of nature and had more overtly man-made surroundings.

Similarly it’s been reported that a view of nature aids in recovery so what’s not to like?

Boost your creativity and get healthy too by connecting to the natural world. Man!

Clever Marketing - Hampshire Digital Agency - Boost your creativityThere you have it; six ways to boost your creativity. Give your imagination a lift and stay creative in whatever way you can. Believe us, it works!

Need us to be your creative department? Then give our studio a call on 01276 534 680 or fill in this easy form.

Actually doing social media right

A Quick Guide to Actually Doing Social Media Right

Social media. It’s easy. Tap a few sentences into Twitter, share a cat pic, broadcast a link, Facebook, retweet, LinkedIn, piece of cake right?

Right. And yet so very wrong.

Having been tweeting since millennials were just eight years old, we’ve been there, seen that, done it and got the t-shirt. [Seriously, we actually have the t-shirts! – Ed]

Social media IS easy. Anyone can set up an account and just throw out and regurgitate stuff on whichever platform they choose. But getting it right, actually doing social media right, is both an art-form and a science.

So how do you get actually get social media right?

1. What’s the Best Social Media Tool?

This may seem an odd question to start with. But, to so many people it’s all about the tools. Just like wannabe web designers ask about Dreamweaver first and not HTML. What’s the best social media tool? Hootsuite? Tweetdeck? Buffer?

No. It’s your brain. Use it. Use it first, everything else follows.

And secondly, let’s make this very clear: tools do not make you a whizz at social media. Knowledge and experience do and you need to learn, learn well and learn fast!

So, first and foremost, THINK!

Think about your brand, think about what values you want to convey.

Think about your tone of voice.

Think about the messages your audience might expect from you.

Think about which channels your potential customers are on, think about what your competitors and suppliers will see.

So your brain is the most valuable social media tool you have. Use it and be clever about your social messaging, tactics and strategy.

2. What’s the Second Best Social Media Tool?

Trick question, right? This time it’s got to be Hootsuite!

No, it’s Tweetdeck, yes?

Nope. It’s quite simple: A command of the English language. Sending out social media posts littered with typos, grammatical errors, incorrect capitalisation etc. will damage your reputation and your brand. If you can’t get something as simple as written English right then what are you going to be like with the rest of your services? It’s not just your target audience who will see any errors but potentially the whole internet. And you really don’t want to be fluffing your lines on the world stage do you?

Be clever. Be accurate.

Craft your messages using your English language skills. And if you’re not 100% confident of your ability, get help from a colleague who has those skills, or learn them yourself. The term “Grammar Nazi” may have many negative connotations, but in the world of having potentially millions of people seeing your message, the language police are your best friend.

Assume your social media posts are going into print or being written in stone because, even though social media can seem transient, screen-grabs of your mistakes are not.

Anyone running your social media accounts is a brand ambassador. As such they must speak clearly, communicate correctly and in the right tone of voice for your brand.

So if you want to be seen to be clever and articulate then actually BE clever and articulate. Watch your capitalisation, watch your sentence structure, keep an eye on your spelling and you’ll be just fine.

3. Take Your Time

Hold fire. You’ve used your brain and finely-honed English language skills to craft a beautifully-written tweet or post. You saw something that you really liked and you’re just about to re-post, re-tweet, share it: Do you press send straight away?

As the old military saying goes “Put brain into gear before engaging mouth”.

Social media history is littered with examples of people who just don’t get this simple concept. The biggest and most high profile social media rule breaker is the current U.S. President who has been bad-mouthing opponents, making racist, misogynistic and derogatory comments, re-posting questionable and unreliable sources yet accuses others of doing what he is guilty of. We very much doubt you are going to be that level of awful.

But even saying things that are incorrect, mis-spelt, irrelevant or misleading are not going to do you any favours. So take your time when you devise and craft messages.

And even when you think you’re ready to “hit send” just sit back and take a look at what you’re about to broadcast to the world…

Is it on brand? Is the tone of voice right? Is there a meaningful message? Will users enjoy what you just said? Will there be an action? A reaction? Does it serve a purpose? Does it pass the “so what?” test? Did you just say something but there’s no link to your website or service? Why would you do that?!

You may be under pressure to create and broadcast regular social media but don’t let the pressure get to you. Remind your superiors that you need to take your time and the quality of your social media activity will show that taking time is a worthwhile step.

4. Map It All Out

Now that your brain is in gear, you have your brand guidelines to adhere to, your tone of voice all sorted and you’ve got your William Shakespeare hat on ready to tweet with the eloquence of a professional journalist…

…it’s time to map out your posts.

You need to plan your goals. Do you want to create brand awareness? Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Do you want to create leads? Convert visitors into customers? Or do you just want to share, entertain, socialise, inform? Maybe you’ll want to do all of these things?

This is where you’ll map out how much of each thing you want to do.

Let’s say you have a news feed that pumps out a story or two every day. You have a blog post written and published once a week. Product launches happen roughly once a month.

Do you have any old content that is still totally relevant? Evergreen content that can be used again because you didn’t shackle yourself with a time constraint? Then use it. Take a look at the content on your website and see the wealth of information that you can share with your audience.

This is a great starting point to see the landscape over a week, a month, a quarter or more.

Think ahead… are there any seasonal times when your messages will align with the time of year? Christmas greetings, Easter campaigns, New Year messages, holiday offers? Are there any events in the calendar of your industry or your customers’ industries?

What hashtags will you use? Are they the right ones for where your audience hang out?

Put this all in a spreadsheet and have your team go through it with you. They’ll spot any typos, adjust the messaging, keep you honest and be your quality assurance team.

5. Look at the Data and Adjust Accordingly

There’s an old saying that “You can’t adjust the wind but you can adjust your sail.”

In social media this means looking at your results and being honest about what works and what doesn’t. You want to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. But if the messages that don’t seem to work because they have a high number of views but no engagement – they could still be useful for brand awareness.

Another point to bear in mind is social media analytics is about “measuring not counting” as the short guide from MRS, the Market Research Society, said back in 2015. That’s still important to remember.

Did you get really great engagement out of something unexpected? Was it the cat pics? Do you really want to post more of those?

Also look at the time when you post. Does this need to change? What if you post more often? Will you get double the amount of traffic to your website if you post twice as often?

We’re well aware we’ve been asking a lot of questions but only you have the answers. Every brand, every business, every social media account is different and you should reflect that in whatever you say.

Stand out from your competition by showing why you are so different from “all the others”.

Connect with your customers by showing them why they should come to you.

Use all the analytical data at your disposal to generate more of the appealing content for your social media channels. And don’t stop with the usual Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or even Instagram and TikTok data but use your Google Analytics and Search Console data too. It’s well worth it.

Clever Marketing - Hampshire Digital Agency

If you don’t have the time or expertise to get your head around the myriad of things you need to do to run a successful social media campaign then give us a call.

We’re on 01276 534 680.

Alternatively fill in our easy contact form or use the chat box to let us know what you need help with.