Nonprofit and church staff marketing teams often feel pressure to be on the leading edge of creativity. You feel like you have to have the most eye-catching social media posts, the most compelling way of telling a story people have heard a hundred times, or the most innovative teaching series.
Marketing your message to wider audiences has grown to encompass literally the world. But the competing messages from everyone else have also grown. Your message may get lost amongst the thousands of others. Coming up with the most compelling and creative ways to tell your story will help your organization stand out.
The transition to a comprehensive digital marketing was taking hold long before the pandemic and the pandemic fueled that transition even more. Any organization, churches included, has the potential to reach audiences miles beyond their literal front door. Creative marketing will help you tell your story and inspire others to join your community.
How do you keep your teams inspired? How do you set a culture of creativity for those you lead, ultimately resulting in great ideas and creatively empowered teams? It can be easy to get stuck in the “what’s always worked” mode but teams that rest on their laurels will get left behind.
Here are 6 ways to step up creativity in your organization:
Observe (and borrow) ideas
Whenever you see a great marketing idea, screenshot it or bookmark it. It’s ok to borrow other people’s ideas (unless they’re patented or trademarked, of course)! It can feel “taboo” or as if you’re “copying” someone, but as long as it still aligns with your goals and makes sense for your organization, give it a shot!
Churches: if you see a really creative membership campaign drive you admire, try it for yourself! Put your own spin on it or add to the concept.
Nonprofits: if you see a brand engage their followers with a unique engagement campaign on social media that you want to tailor to your audience, go for it!
Steve Jobs famously said, “Creativity is just connecting things.” Start connecting things you observe to things you do.
Change up your team
Do you always gravitate towards the same group of “creatives” to help you brainstorm ideas? While it’s great to have your go-to people, every once in a while try mixing it up.
For example, if your nonprofit is organizing a public event to raise brand awareness, pull in more than just your communications department or your most creative staff members. Ask someone from finance, a few volunteers, or some friends to provide feedback. They may give a unique perspective you would not get with your usual creative team.
Set the vibe
Environment is everything. Studies have shown that getting out of your normal workspace, even if just for an hour, will enhance your creativity.
If you have an important brainstorming meeting for an upcoming holiday-inspired teaching series or annual Christmas donor event, set the mood in your conference room. Even if it’s the middle of summer, crank up the Christmas music, serve Christmas treats and decorate the room in Christmas colors. You might even ask everyone to wear their favorite “ugly Christmas sweater” or bring their favorite Christmas dish.
You may think it won’t make a difference, but it shows your team that you are expecting great things from the meeting and your intentionality with setting the tone will pay off with their creativity.
Try something “out there”
I don’t encourage you to try something too risky very often, but maybe once a year your organization should try to push the boundaries a bit. Sometimes things untested or unproven are scary to undertake (especially when you’re working with donated dollars), but every once and a while, that “wild, what-if” idea just may be the very thing that kicks you into a new gear.
Maybe your organization would be ideal to promote on TikTok but you haven’t yet taken the leap. (TikTok gains 8 new users every second so it’s definitely the right channel for many organizations!) Try a new wildly creative idea, measure the results, and you just may land upon a new, creative way to reach your target audience(s).
Throw a brainstorming party
Creative energy is contagious. Gather your team (in person or virtually), play some upbeat music, serve snacks, and lead the team in creative prompts.
Mind mapping is a great visual brainstorming technique that uses an initial idea to inspire others. You’ll need a large piece of paper or whiteboard so the team can see the ideas. It’s a great way to expand on a topic. Consider breaking up your team into smaller teams and host a fun contest or create vision boards to prompt new branding ideas with old magazines and books.
Change your scenery
During the pandemic the lines between work and home began to blur. Many of us were working remotely and feeling isolated. Physical surroundings can impact your team workflow and creativity.
When you’re in a rut, a new location can help spur new ideas. Get out and walk and listen to new music from your favorite artist, grab your laptop and head to a local coffee shop or coworking space, or head to the movies. Sometimes we need to change our environment and view things from a different vantage point.
For me, a trip to Disney World does wonders to awaken my own creative juices. It’s amazing what we can accomplish if you are able to dream it.
Creativity is a muscle that must be exercised consistently to continue generating ideas to move your cause forward. Try any of the above six tips, and we guarantee you'll get a spark of inspiration that you may not have otherwise.
Now grab that whiteboard and cup of coffee and get to work!