Follow this four-point formula to amp up your marketing creativity

5 minute read
Who is Mark Pollard? He’s Strategy CEO at Mighty Jungle, a creative hub for training, strategy, writing and ideas, and an author of the new book, “Strategy Is Your Words”. Mark offers powerful perspective developed throughout an impressive career – from founding Australia’s first full-colour hip hop magazine, Stealth, to running strategy teams at McCann, Leo Burnett and Big Spaceship. His proven approach is now sought after by big brands like The Economist, Decoded, Mozilla, Poo-Pourri, McCann, Havas and more. You can find him causing mischief on Twitter and Instagram @markpollard, and his strategy podcast Sweathead on iTunes.

Marketers are at a critical crossroads. Has our devotion to numbers led to creative numbness? Could it be that we’ve lost our sense of creativity and misunderstood its role at the core of sustainable business success? 2020 might be the year to regain your balance.

During the first of Amp it Up! – a three-part virtual event series curated and hosted by Canada Post – strategist Mark Pollard shared his unignorable advice, revealing some of the key issues marketers face today. Helping us all try on a different way of thinking, he shared provocative ideas and practical techniques – challenging marketers everywhere to amp up campaign strategies. His advice is a timely reminder to apply his award-winning insights to your next project.

Creativity is already in you

Think of your inner life, your home life, your work life, the life of the brand you represent. In a year that has been more challenging than many of us have ever experienced, have you sacrificed your creativity for the sake of survival? The way Mark sees it, creativity is innate. It’s what being human is all about and it makes marketing more effective.

Our Amp it Up! event poll revealed that 76 per cent of our participants believe creativity is critical to marketing effectiveness. If most of us know that, why don’t we act on it? Instead, we turn off our creativity, or put it on hold, and our brands lose touch with humanity.

Creativity matters, but we don’t allow ourselves the time to practice it. We put numbers in charge and sideline the words and feelings. Authenticity and humanity are missing from our marketing.

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Take a new perspective

2020 has taught us to think differently – to face challenges head on and root out opportunities. We know that balance is important, but we’ve been tempted to chase short-term efficiencies instead of using creativity to build effective brands for the long term. It’s time to add lateral thinking to our linear thought processes.

While linear thinking follows a single line of enquiry, sticking close to the problem, lateral thinking examines the problem from outside its boundaries. Creativity is lateral thinking.

Mark argued that powerful, creative ideas combine things that don’t usually co-exist – and they do it in a way that makes better, more useful sense. Now is your opportunity to mix it up, to take a different view, to pay more attention to feelings and take risks. By embracing new ways of doing things, we can reconnect with audiences who have lost enthusiasm for us doing things the way we’ve always done them.

Use Mark Pollard’s four point approach to marketing

Mark Pollard's 4-point approach to marketing includes problem, insight, advantage and strategy.


Your problem is the biggest obstacle separating you from success. Don’t be afraid of the problem. Spend time understanding and articulating it. Mark reassured us that a well-stated problem can quickly become the elusive solution.

  • What is your problem? Most businesses are afraid of the truth. Be honest. What stops people from buying from you?
  • Humanize the problem. Think about the human problem behind your business problem so you can personalize your creative approach. Make sure you land a clean problem statement.
  • Put numbers in their place. While data is important, numbers can alienate if they’re interpreted in isolation. Instead, use data to identify a problem, tell a story and generate insights and ideas that track towards a solution.


This is where you unpack your problem. An insight is an idea that helps you reorganize your thinking – an unspoken human truth that sheds new light on the problem. It’s your escape route from the problem. Insights encourage the brain to develop a creative solution – leading you to a strategy that solves.

  • Audience, audience, audience. Keep this top of mind when writing your insights.
  • Be frugal. Don’t jam in implications or recommendations.
  • Stand up to challenges. Make sure you can argue the case to prove that your insight works.


What makes your brand unique in people’s minds? What motivates your customers to buy from you? What can you tell people about your business that could change the way they view you and your brand? Make sure your audience is always the focus of your enquiry and that you frame your advantage in the context of their lives.


Strategy is an informed opinion about how to win. Combine insight with advantage and that’s what will lead you to a strategy statement and a solution to your problem. Your strategy offers a new way of seeing your brand, your service or your organization based on everything you now know about your problem, your insights and your advantage.

Seek out creative inspiration

Mark Pollard’s four points represent an adventure in clear thinking – injecting new life into the creative process. Keep your eyes and ears open for inspirational examples of creativity at work. You can see Mark’s four-point thinking in action in ‘The Ministry of Marginally Superior Transport’ campaign from Hendrick’s Gin. It consisted of a quirky mix of data, social listening and mail – combining things that don’t normally belong together – to reinforce the unquestionably unique brand. The result was exceedingly superior marketing.

  • The Problem: Hendrick’s was the world’s first unusual gin. Then everyone copied it and the marketplace became crowded. To keep its product on everyone’s lips, Hendrick’s needed to reinforce its brand. Here’s the thing about fans of Hendrick’s…they’re not fans of their daily commute.
  • The Insight: Hendrick’s combined two things that don’t normally go together – its eroding share of an increasingly crowded marketplace and commuter frustration with public transit. They were able to prove their insight about transit frustrations using social data. 7,000+ frustrated tweets daily told Hendrick’s that fans hated their daily commute.
  • The Advantage: There was an opportunity to infuse peculiar delight into people’s everyday journeys by being entertainingly helpful. Enter Hendrick’s “Ministry of Marginally Superior Transport.”
  • The Strategy: Executing its strategy of differentiation, @HendricksginUK committed to making their customers’ dire transit situation slightly better. Hendrick’s proactively tweeted, replied and sent personalized videos to those in need, creating more than 750 pieces of content over two weeks. When people had heard enough of train delays, poor etiquette and atrocious manners, a cucumber-shaped, cocktail-laden replacement bus service took to the streets. But what really focused consumer attention on Hendrick’s were the things that arrived by mail. Travelling cocktail kits, Frantic Air Nudgers (FANs), stylish travel card holders and copies of Hendrick’s hilarious newspaper, The Unusual Times were mailed and caused a stir.

Creativity holds a special place in marketing and should never be ignored or undervalued. Use Mark’s four points to carve a clear-cut path for your creative process.

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