Creativity is not the only thing that should be happening in your advertising. And which 'creativity' are we thinking of, anyway? The writing? The images? The strategy? The 50 parachuting monkeys? Information and a little planning are much more important than creativity for small business advertising. Even before you make that information, you need to choose when and how people will see your message. The placement of your ads is the single most important step to selling to new customers. Every time someone finds your website--THAT is a placement. If your advertising is never seen, is it advertising?
The most creative strategy in advertising? Do what your competitors don't do. Make a plan to meet your consumers with Ad Placements that answer their questions. This simple technique requires very little 'creative' effort and transforms your advertising into something that is not advertising at all. Your business becomes a trusted supplier of information instead.
In some cases, a business must 'go creative' with design work to compete. How do you know that you need those creative efforts? Usually, the indicator that design or creative work will be required is that the end product has a high value. Home Builders and Attorneys are good examples. Interestingly, while those two categories must spend money on design work to look good, they seldom use creative techniques for the information in their advertising. They might look great, but they're boring because the information is almost identical to their competitors. At the end of the day, it's hard to call boring creative.
One of the most important things that we've learned is this: Don't Stop. Keep going forward, be willing to learn and don't hesitate if you find that you need to budget both time and money. If you have to, budget some cash for things like logos, but first, take some steps towards some real creativity: Create sales.