Content Creation with the Vanderbilts

Have you ever had one of those dreams where your brain makes a mashup of everything you did the day before and includes it all at once?  No?  Well, maybe it’s a creative thing.

Yesterday I wrote this article, kept score for two girl’s softball games at a local tournament, ate paella for dinner at a local Peruvian restaurant, and fell asleep watching a documentary about robber barons and tycoons on the History Channel.  This provided my subconscious with everything it needed to create a seriously wacky mix in my dream.  By the way, the Commodore is very picky about his paella.

Anyway, this odd little introduction illustrates the points of this article.  Creatives are weird, Man.  We dream stuff up out of nothing and think sideways, but the world would be awfully vanilla without us.

Today I’m sharing some plans for how to overcome nature and create great content in any situation, but first let’s review a bit.

Quick Review

How Nature Works Against You

Majority Mess: Of the four personality types, two of them are naturally creative.  The creative personalities are only 20% of the population making them hard to come by.  Creatives are immersed from birth because of their numbers.  This makes it easier for them to learn executive skills than for executives to learn to be creative.

Workplace Distribution: In the workplace personalities are often separated into Production and Sales.  Each half needs a creative and executive element – Rationals are the creatives for production and Idealists are the creatives for sales.  By splitting an already small minority into two groups, hiring the right creative people becomes even more difficult.

Management & Advertising:  Because of their majority, Guardians and Rationals tend to approach website content creation erroneously.  Guardians see it as management (production) and Artisans see it as advertising (sales).  These approaches rely on something to either manage or sell, so it first must be created.  Content creation is actually publishing and requires an infusion of creative ability.

Realism vs. Imagination:  Production people prefer to experiment with things physically using tools of measurement and alteration.  Sales people prefer to experiment with things mentally using ideas and concepts.  This places the function of publishing firmly in the area belonging to Idealists who are both creative and imaginative.

2 Kinds of Creativity

Generative Creativity

My children call it, “Thinking sideways.”  It means having a seemingly endless flow of ideas that come from nowhere other than my head.  I ask a question about something based on the way I see it and they say things like, “Who thinks of stuff like that?”  The grown-up term for it is Generative Creativity.  It’s the term I use regarding the ability to make something out of nothing or think up original ideas.  This is what Creatives bring to their respective worlds.

  • Generative Creativity can be very informative.  People who have it are often the ones that observe what others do naturally and synthesize it into words.  They coin phrases and offer explanations for the way the world works.
  • Generative creativity can be very educational.  The world looks to those who have it for global perspective and an explanation of  life’s big picture.  They tell us where we’re headed based on where we’ve been and serve as our conscience while he continue to progress.
  • Generative creativity can be extremely entertaining.  Think about it, how often have you heard your favorite comedian say something and thought to yourself, “Where in the world did she come up with that?”  By thinking sideways, she noticed something quirky about life and brought it to your attention.

Innovative Creativity

You need to understand that creativity is not the sole property of the minority.  There is another kind of creativity that emerges in the majority personalities.  I call it Innovative Creativity.  It’s has more to do with how you handle things than with the things, themselves.  In other words, people with innovative creativity are able to devise new ways to organize, classify, and manipulate things that already exist.

This type of creativity stems from their innate ability to learn.  Executives can devour vast amounts of knowledge and amass extensive educations.  They then call upon their knowledge as they create innovative new methods for making, managing, positioning, and branding things that their generative counterparts have created by thinking sideways.

  • Innovative Creativity can be informative.  The world looks to these people to bring them their news, commentate their sports, and introduce new products.  They host the talk shows, report the happenings, and sell the latest stuff.
  • Innovative Creativity can be educational.  People who have it are often extremely accomplished at explaining how to use tools, apply ideas, and develop skills.  This is why many are teachers, professors, and private instructors.
  • Innovative Creativity can be entertaining.  You would never have known about your favorite comedian if someone hadn’t produced the sit-com, directed the special, or recorded the album.  These are the folks who provide the media though which we enjoy our music, movies, and TV.

3 Strategies for Beating Mother Nature

Hire A Creative

One strategy is to hire a creative.  If you don’t have one and you have the resources, this can solve a lot of problems.  It can also create them if you don’t go about things properly.  There are few things more tragic than a destructive conflict between executives and creatives.  This is mainly because they leave behind a ton of collateral damage.  Here are some tips.

If you’re going to hire a creative, provide him with a private work area where interruptions can be filtered.  Placing your creative in a high-traffic area with no barrier between him and the rest of the world will almost always end in disaster.  No one will mean to cause it.  It will happen innocently, but constant interruption and meddling with the priority of projects will eventually burn out any creative.

I also recommend a different method of compensation for creatives.  It will sound weird, but remember that you’re dealing with a very scarce type of people.  I believe that creatives should not be paid hourly, and never salaried.  They should be paid per project and bonused for speed and excellence.  Creatives are goal oriented not task oriented, so reward them for reaching their goal – not punching a clock.

Lastly, if you are going to bring a creative into your world, remember that you are probably the majority.  You’ll need to limit yourself so that you have to consider her viewpoint.  It will be very easy to simply run roughshod over her and leave her feeling irrelevant and unappreciated.  Remember, you went looking for her to bring something unique to your company.

One more note.  You can certainly hire a creative through your normal processes, but those processes are probably set up to hire good executives.  I recommend consulting with a successful third-party recruiter who knows how to find the specific blend of skills you need.

Contract A Creative

Another strategy is to contract a creative.  This works well if you can’t or don’t wish to hire one.  When you hire an independent creative you don’t have environmental concerns, because he will work from his own office.  This arrangement also simplifies the compensation issue.  You will still need to be aware of your majority, but, when your creative is billing you, you’ll tend to pay more attention to him anyway.

There are two ways to contract a creative.  The first is by the project.  This means that each project your creative works on will be quoted and agreed upon in advance and billed upon completion.  This is the cleanest (and probably the most common) way to work with a creative.  It allows her to control her environment and her priorities while naturally incentivizing her for speed and excellence.

Another way to contract a creative is by retainer.  This is where you pay a regular monthly fee for ongoing services.  Having a retainer will help both parties, because you will have a reliable expense that fits more easily into your budget.  Your creative will have steady work and pay.  You’ll need to negotiate the retainer agreement up front and review it regularly.

Give Your Executive People the Right Tools

If you decide that hiring or contracting a creative is not a suitable option for your company, you can always make a go of things using the executive folks you already have.  Executives are quite capable of creating adequate quantities of quality web content on a consistent basis.  However you must give them the right tools for the job.

The number one issue you will have with executives creating content is their perspective.  As we’ve discussed content creation is about starting globally and breaking things down to local pieces.  Executives will struggle with developing a global perspective.  They will be overwhelmed by the seeming enormity of the task ahead.  You’ll need a good answer when they ask, “Where do I start?”

Their toolbox will need to contain two specific items.  The first is a planning guide.  Executives will respond well to the right questions like: “What do you wish you had a training for?” and “What do your customers ask most about your product?”  Questions that generate a resource that can be outlined or a list that can be addressed are good places to start.

The second tool in the box is a posting schedule.  Once you have the answer to your question, break it down as far as you can into basic components.  Now take those components and turn them into a list of post topics.  Finally, schedule those topics on a calendar.  Now you’re ready to research and write accordingly.

Are You Up For A Bribe?

Right now I am working on a system that I believe will vastly improve the way companies create web content.  It will contain planning guides, posting schedules, blog post ideas, headline help, and even formatted templates for the posts themselves.  The goal is to provide you with a comprehensive resource for creating killer content that drives traffic to your site, increases your share of the voice in your market, and boosts your bottom line by helping you sell more stuff.

What I need is feedback.  So I’m going to offer parts of the system as FREE downloads in future posts.  All I ask is that you download the stuff and tell me what you think.  Your input will be vital in making sure this system is the absolute best it can be.  So, let’s start today with this FREE download.  It’s the first version of a blog post template.  The ideas is simply follow the instructions and have a quality post at the end.

Thanks in advance for your help!  I truly appreciate it!

Content Creation over Paella with the Vanderbilts
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Content Creation over Paella with the Vanderbilts
Who is responsible for your website content creation? Do you create it in-house or is it contracted out? Here are some plans to help you get it done.
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