Focus on great ideas and products
Murshidul Hasan

Fredrik Haren, an author and speaker on business creativity, founder of interesting.org, shares his theories of creativity with Dhaka Tribune

  • Fredrik Haren speaking at Commward 2013 
    Photo- Commons

What should companies do to cultivate creativity and innovativeness for being fresh in their marketing campaigns?

Companies can do a lot. As a leader, you have to use the right words while talking about brands. “What can we do to help our people become more creative?” that should be the mind-set of all.

The most important thing a leader can do is be creative themselves, rather than asking people to be creative or teaching them to be creative. If you work for someone who does things differently you will feel empowered to do things differently, whereas if you work for someone who is very conservative and doesn’t change, there will be a disconnect.

Then you are likely to do as your manager does, not as he asks you to.

It’s surprising that many leaders talk about innovation and ask everyone else to be innovative but they don’t do the same. That’s why leaders, who do things differently, are famous as such Richard Branson, and Tony Fernandez.

What is needed to stay ahead in developing new marketing ideas?

You should focus on great ideas, customer solutions, or customer experiences rather than marketing ideas. It’s all getting intertwined. I feel that the biggest mistake companies make is to think that they can have marketing ideas.

I interviewed the owner of Evernote, a company that creates software for keeping ideas. Previously, he had started companies with 50% of budget allocated for product development and 50% for admins, marketing and sales. Recently, he started a new company, with 95% of resources, and energy allotted for building a great product and 5% for marketing and sales. He said that the world has changed, and if there is a great product people will talk about it. They will write, share, and blog about it. A company should focus all resources and energy in making an amazing product.

If consumers don’t talk about your product, you should not put more money on marketing, rather you should allocate money on making a better product. If people don’t talk about your product, it is due to your product not being good enough to talk about.

I do the same myself. I don’t promote my speeches or myself. I focus on making good speeches. Then, the word spreads. More than 95% bookings come because someone has heard me speaking.

How do you spot a great idea from a good one?

The definition of “interesting” is “unusual or exciting in a way that keeps your attention.” It’s very important to have the second part because you can do something very shocking. 

I can put a topless woman and everyone will notice it, but it’s not creative. It’s just attention-grabbing. But if something is unusual or exciting in a way that keeps my attention, that’s when I say “That’s interesting!”

If you say “that’s interesting” around an idea, that’s a good sign. This is why my company is called Interesting, to remind us of “That’s a good idea.”

Can you please tell us about your book, “The Idea Book”?

“The Idea Book” is not a single product. It’s a book and a notebook. You can read it as a normal book. Also, you can read it as a management book or a self-help book.

In many bookstores, it’s both in the management section and the self-help section. Although they usually put a book in one or the other, “The Idea Book” is in both sections. It is also a training book so companies buy it as a training tool.

It’s a gift that creative individuals give to other creative individuals and say “You are such a creative person, you should read this book.” Furthermore, it’s a notebook and people buy it as one.

As I am selling six different products, the market is bigger. I focused on the human need which is being creative, and the need for love only exceeds the feeling for being creative. The emotion that we all feel when we have a really good idea is the highest we ever feel. We are so happy and positive that we would go through fire to make it happen. So, if I have a tool that will make people have more such feeling, that’s what I focus on doing.

How has your experience been in participating in COMMWARD?

I have been speaking at many different branding conferences including Cannes, the largest in the world. The quality here has been very good. It was a wonderful conference and well-organised. 

Although, I spoke at the biggest branding conference in Jakarta, but this conference was better organised, with better attendees, and better speakers. The Indonesian conference was good, but this has also been great in all respect.
 

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