How Creatives Can Live Peacefully in the Business World

You’ve landed that new job as the marketing person (or graphic design, copywriter, etc.), challenged with bringing a new graphic face and messaging that is expected to result in new and increased business. Very exciting, yet there’s a problem: it’s like you’ve landed on another planet. Here’s 5 ways to bridge that communication gap between the land of the creatives and the business group.

Creative people – whether you’re marketing, print design, UI design, copywriting – generally “think different” than their counterparts in the business world. We draw much of what we do from emotion. We express ourselves in ways that sometimes doesn’t “fit” within the corporate culture. Hell, we’re actually into expressing ourselves freely – and that’s not always particularly “welcome”.

Do you feel like you’ve just landed on another planet? Well, in some ways you have…it’s called business. And it’s what you need to survive.

If you are expecting to eat, pay bills, and live the life you want to live, you need to learn to peacefully coexist in this world. That goes for staff creatives, as well as freelancers.

So how do we, as creatives, manage that and not lose the creativity? Here are 5 ways to retain your creativity in the world of “business”.

  1. Recognize that your job exists to build business. Bottom line, you have a job to affect the bottom line – and the sooner you learn that, the easier your life will be. It’s not about your beautiful work or your amazing headlines. It is about creating messaging, images, collateral, websites, etc. that will help the business grow.
  2. Show a real interest in the business. Learn all about everything the business does and what the business goals are. Understanding what the goals are will allow you to produce work that is aligned and therefore more effective. Check out the competition and share what you are seeing with the people you work with or report to.
  3. Change your language. If people are scratching their heads when they’re speaking to you, it’s time to recognize you need to speak the language of the business. Learn to present your ideas in a way that resonates with the business goals. Let people know how your idea answers a business problem.  They don’t care how long it took or any fancy processes you used until they recognize how it will promote business. And by all means, do not pout when you don’t win the crowd over.  Which leads us to…
  4. Listen! Listen and learn from the people you are working with. They know the business and customers, and by listening and absorbing you will learn and begin to establish respect. You’ll find that they will start to share more and more with you over time if they see you have a real interest.
  5. Share results. Every businessperson wants to know there’s progress. Share any changes that you see – such as a press release published, web visitors increased, sales improved – in the form of a quick message as well as a regular report. Work together to identify areas that are successful, and those that are not, then devise a plan for next steps with updated goals.

These seem like no-brainers, however many creative people walk into a new business situation thinking they are going to rock the world – and then are disappointed when they don’t get the same enthusiasm from the other side. Remember why you’re there: to use your talent to help grow the business. Focus on the business and let the artsy side ride along – you’ll find it’s an awesome way to make a living!


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How to Deal With That Alien You Hired: The Marketing Person


Need help learning how to communicate with your marketing staff? Or are you an art director, freelancer, or marketing person trying to “get along” with the business world, yet can’t seem to get there. Have you considered a marketing mentor? I’ve been on both sides of the fence, made tons of mistakes – and learned far more along the way (it pays to get old and wise!). Click here to contact me or leave a message on my Facebook page. Let’s talk…