Creativity is a key component of how agencies produce high-quality work. At Viv, we have several practices in place that keep creativity front and center at all times, from the minute we bring a new team member on through delivering a finished product. We think of our approach to creativity as three ‘pillars’: Hiring Curious (that one is all about people), Discovery (that one is all about process), and Psychological Safety (that one is all about culture).
To see and hear our team elaborate on these three pillars of creativity, view our recent video discussion on the topic:
Here is a summary of what our team talked about:
People: Hiring Curious
To foster creativity in our work, we believe it’s key to have curious people on our team. While some may not think curiosity and creativity are inherently linked, we have seen it in action. When bright, curious people work together to solve problems, they’re going to produce creative solutions.
Effective marketing requires empathy towards the audiences you’re targeting. It’s key to put yourself in their shoes and understand their goals and desires. It’s virtually impossible to do that without being curious and in turn, thinking creatively.
With all of this said, it’s important that there are structures in place for curious and creative people to all come together and collaborate.
It may sound counterintuitive to have processes or templates with an end goal of creativity. However, while we pride ourselves on the depth of our enrollment marketing expertise, we also recognize that there is always much to learn about each client we partner with.
It would be presumptuous to think that we know everything about a client and their situation when we’re just starting out, so we go into each project with a beginner’s mindset.
We call this part of a project the discovery phase, and we tackle it in two ways. First, we prioritize asking the client and ourselves as many questions as necessary to fully develop the background needed to succeed. We want to know what the client’s goals are, the nuances of the audiences that they target, roadblocks they may be hitting with current efforts, or tactics that they have traditionally used.
It’s also key to practice discovery internally – we ask each other how we’ve tackled similar issues in the past, or what approaches we think might be relevant.
After we have completed questioning internally and with the client, we gather inspiration from external sources. We explore both how businesses and higher education entities have developed messaging and content around a parallel topic or issue. This allows us to think outside of that traditional higher ed box and form a cohesive vision for what we want that finished project to be.
Culture: Practicing Psychological Safety
Psychological safety is all about making sure we have a really collaborative environment where team members feel empowered and excited to share their ideas, even if not every idea is perfect or fully developed.
We recently saw some data from MIT Sloan Management Review showing that toxic workplace culture is 10x more predictive of turn-over than low pay. The reason for that is that it’s really hard to compartmentalize when you feel like people you work with every day don’t know you or care to listen to you, or even worse, actively diminish who you are and how you can contribute. Our internal team culture is centered around empathy and creating belonging – and that absolutely makes a difference in how we show up for clients and what results we achieve for them.
To create belonging, we make time for our team to connect with each other through happy hours, team meetings, and, where possible, in-person team events. As a remote team, we think creatively about how to foster connections amongst our employees and allow space for us to learn about each other.
A critical piece here is also that our team members have the opportunity to step away from work to recharge, so that they can show up as their best selves.
Our goal at Viv Higher Ed is to create a team culture that consistently reinforces the idea that alone we cannot accomplish what we can accomplish together and that our only way to accomplish our goals is to respect and challenge each other every day.
If you and your higher education marketing or enrollment team feel like you’re in need of more creativity in your work and in your lives, we encourage you to reach out to us. We look forward to learning about your goals and how we might be able to help you reach them!