June 19, 2013

Creativity in mutual fund marketing: changing the way the game is played

By Melissa Murphy

When graffiti artist and author Erik Wahl asked the audience at last week’s 25th annual Morningstar Investment Conference who thought they could draw, I didn’t detect many raised hands.  When he asked how many preschoolers would raise their hand if asked the same question, we knew the answer: Nearly all of them. What happens to our creativity between age five and adulthood? 
We were challenged to seek creativity as the new corporate capital: As another powerful way to achieve competitive advantage.

In Wahl’s world, FEAR is an acronym meaning False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear of failure and of rejection of one’s ideas can kill performance. Using creativity can help you and your clients navigate challenges. If we take ourselves too seriously, it’ll block our ability to navigate the human connection.
Many financial services marketers feel shackled by the binds of compliance. Can this dynamic be navigated? Look at the Motley Fool Funds. They’ve found a way to harness the inherent whimsy of their brand and connect with clients about serious investment products. For example, one of the elements of their conference marketing booth is a stand with plain-language descriptions of their funds, concluding with the statement, “Besides, when I was a kid, Cyndi Lauper told me that ‘Girls just wanna have funds…’” Hilarious, witty and compelling. 

Wahl suggested we utilize an old childhood favorite: Crayola’s box of 64 crayons. The smell of crayons is one
of the world’s most recognized scents, and studies show this odor reduces blood pressure as it relaxes us by triggering pleasant memories of childhood, playtime and creativity.

Interested in more creative wisdom from Erik Wahl? He’s written a book entitled UNthink, details are available at http://theartofvision.com/unthink.

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