Something to be said about standing out

by | Jul 14, 2018 | 0 comments

There really is something to be said about standing out, for doing something so different that people take notice, for being remarkable. I was working with a group who are looking at marketing their products and services, predominately online and asked them to think about a scenario where there was no internet.  Now how are you going to build social engagement.  Now this might seem counter intuitive but what it did was to put social media as a result and not the method.  Far too many digital campaigns focus on the delivery mechanism such as the social media network or the type of content that they totally forget the reason why they are trying to engage with their audiences. By coming up with some great strategies on how to really engage their network and how to make their offering, in the words of Seth Godin, Remarkable.  The end result is that they gave their followers something really engaging to talk about, something they really wanted to share. Thus we boosted their followers engagement on social media by disrupting the norm, by what we did rather than what we did it on (as in which channel).

Another way that we did this recently with another group was to look at how they could boost their online product sales.  They had always been using a standard shopping cart experience as their payment gateway and so we decided to ask them to take the payment gateway out.  This meant that people could order online BUT they couldn’t use cards / PayPal / Stripe etc to pay for them online.  Their immediate reaction was, as you can imagine, one of shock, how can someone who is meant to be helping us get more online sales take out the one thing that makes online sales possible? I have to admit it is fairly nerve racking to standing giving a presentation and an exercise for them to do when you can see the thought “these guys are nuts” look in their faces, but we did it none-the-less.

At the end of the exercise however, the look was totally different. They had run through some options about increasing online sales and customer engagement that they would never have thought about had the online payment method been left in place.  We had ideas around a points system, barter system, skills exchange, purpose economy and lots more.  There was so much excitement in the room when they realised how much freedom they had for new ideas.  There was no precedent to conform as the method of conformity had been taken away and all of a sudden they had no problem in thinking outside of the box rather than will a promotion on shirt sales make a certain percentage difference, no now we were onto building a totally new eco-system for them that had customer engagement, customer retention and supplier credibility and reputation built into the heart of their system.  They ended up taking the first steps to building something remarkable.

Now this notion of taking ideas and making them absurd isn’t new, Edward De Bono came up with the idea of Provocative Operation (PO) statements back in the 1960’s and we have been using them in our creative thinking teaching for a number of years.  Normally, and if you have been to one of our creative thinking or ideation workshops, you will know that we ask students to think about what it would be like if planes had to land upside down.  Now the idea isn’t as stupid as you might think and by getting the students, and in the case of the companies their staff, to think about absurd ideas but to think about if the technology already exists to put the ideas into place and how easy it would be to implement both the idea and the technology, we’ve come up with some really amazing ideas and findings over the years.  There has been tractor beams using magnets, vertical take off and landing techniques, putting airports above major cities as planes can land in the air and not on the ground (tailplanes and rudders were not build to land upside down and the pressure of rotating them in-flight would be so great as to make it impractical).

So the next time you are looking to build a new strategy or even to twerk one then why not take one of the main blocks out of the plan and try to work out a solution around it? Like for instance what we did by taking the internet out of a social media strategy or the payment facility from an online sales strategy.  Give it a go, and let us know how you got on and what happened.  You might just build something that for you and your clients is totally remarkable.


For more on being remarkable read Seth Godin’s book “The Purple Cow” and have a look at the video

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Length: 2 days
Dates: 25 - 26 April 2019
Ashford, Co. Wicklow

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Ashford, Co. Wicklow

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Ashford, Co. Wicklow

Ian Oliver

Ian Oliver

Head of Artistic & Creative Entrepreneurship


Building change for Sustainable Creative Careers

Ian has over 15 years’ senior management and entrepreneurial experience in the Arts, creative and technology Sectors and 4 years’ experience working with Local Government, Local Enterprise Offices, Local Arts Offices, Arts Organisations and Venues, Universities, Businesses and Community Groups throughout Ireland, auditing and engaging the artistic and creative community within specific geographic regions.

Currently Ian is working on advising and designing sustainable projects that utilise art and creativity as the main driver to effect sustainable economic and social change.  He also teaches and mentors artistic and creative entrepreneurship training to adult learners and undergraduate students.

Ian’s experience includes developing and implementing business / career / marketing strategies, marketing, business development, digital media, digital content creation, communications, project management, developing business, marketing and digital media strategies and implementation, project development, management and budgeting, resource management, team development and cohesion, training and training distribution methods for clients, staff and stakeholders.

Ian regularly gives papers on Artistic & Creative Entrepreneurship including:

  • What is Creative Entrepreneurship, Trans National Creative Exchange, Solent University Southampton, October 2015;
  • The Role of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, Developing Talent and Opportunities, Slovak Government as part of their EU Presidency, Bratislava, September 2016;
  • Entrepreneurship Training in the Arts, 20th Anniversary Conference, University of Pécs, Hungary, November 2016;
  • Developing a Creative Model Canvas, 3E Conference, Cork, May 2017.

We team creativity and entrepreneurship for impact and profitability!

We specialise in entrepreneurial training and provide business support for Cultural and Creative Professionals, Businesses and Organisations.

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Upcoming Events:


Creative Entrepreneurs Summit 2018 

Ashford, Co Wicklow: 30 November - 2 December 2018

Early Bird: €200 - till the 1 November 2018 Standard: €300

The Creative Entrepreneurs Summit 2018 takes place 30 Nov to 2 Dec. A mixture of workshops, talks, activities all around developing your creative career

This practical 2.5-day Entrepreneurship Programme for Creatives has been especially designed for all those who want to set up, run or further develop their own creative business, organisation or project in a professional and sustainable way.

During the programme participants will develop a practical and comprehensive strategy that will provide a blueprint for their future success.

Developing a sustainable business model, understanding and articulating competitive advantage and unique selling points, defining value proposition, identifying go to market strategy and long term business goals will be the focus for the programme.

Participants can expect:

  • dynamic, effective and highly individualised training
  • experience-based learning
  • lots of feedback from tutors and peers

The training will be delivered by experienced tutors combining their own creative backgrounds with years of running creative businesses and teaching entrepreneurship to creatives.

The programme, initiated by the Centre for Creative Practices in Dublin in 2013, has been attended by over 800 creative entrepreneurs in Ireland and Europe, earning enthusiastic reviews and helping creative practitioners to successfully grow their business, organisation or project.

These 2.5 days will be the best investment you have made in your creative career!


Creative Thinking and Co-Creation Techniques

1 day workshop
Ashford, Co. Wicklow
13 August 2018

Early Bird: €150
Standard: €250

By using a number of creative thinking techniques we will give practical examples of how you can take ideas from conception to reality. Based around the frameworks of  PO statements to "Yes, and..." we will look to develop out of the box creative solutions for real World problems.  We will look at a three stage work-flow taking us from idea generation, through validating the idea and testing.  We will look at a three stage work-flow taking us from idea generation, through validating the idea and testing.

Creative Business Model Development

1 day workshop
Ashford, Co. Wicklow
10 September 2018

Early Bird: €85
Standard: €125

The workshop will help you to answer all your strategic questions and to define the backbone of your creative business. It helps you to prepare a smart plan for the short, medium and also the long term perspective of your creative business.

Value Proposition Design

1 day workshop
15 October 2018

Early Bird: €85
Standard: €125

To run any successful business you need a clearly defined VALUE PROPOSITION that explains how your product/service solves your customers’ problem, need or improves their situation. A Value Proposition allows you to define who your customers are and to offer them what they really want. It also helps to secure grant aid or private investment.

Developing Your Creative Career

June 2018
Course Cost: €150

Whether you are a graduate, or looking to develop your creative career this course will give you clarity, focus and a roadmap to work from. During the course we ​will look at your purpose,​ ​your niche,​ ​your dream job or career position​ ​and identify​ the steps you need to take to reach your goal.

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Ballymurrin Lower, Kilbride
Wicklow, Ireland, A67TK64

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tel: +353(0)858895499

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