How To Decode the ‘Creative Controller’

Carmichael Lynch Headshots MN 07/27/10 Michael McGreggorCarmichael Lynch Spong recently fielded proprietary research that sought to answer the question, “How are women emerging from the recession?” We found that women, who’ve been dealing with the implications of the recession for at least five years now, were coping with their new normal in three distinctly different ways.

We termed these mind-sets “Creative Controller,” “Connection Craver” and “Escape Artist.” Most women had a dominant coping mind-set, along with an evident secondary mindset.

In a series of articles, I’ll explore each one, starting with the Creative Controller, which comprises 60% of the female population in the U.S.

Introducing the Creative Controller. The Creative Controller is a woman driven by the economic, political and environmental instability around her. Her life is overcrowded, in part because of the number of hats she wears.

This woman values simplicity, efficiency and harmony, but they often elude her.

Despite this, the Creative Controller has a positive outlook on life. She feels empowered to pull herself up by her own bootstraps and believes that if anyone can improve her lot in life, she can.

So how is the Creative Controller coping, and how can you help her? Here are some insights and implications that can assist you in creating meaningful messages and experiences that will resonate with the Creative Controller.

She employs the oxygen mask rule.

Unlike the stereotypical woman who is too busy to take care of herself, the Creative Controller employs what we call the oxygen mask rule: She knows that she’s no good to her loved ones if she’s not taking care of herself first. So she seeks to carve out time to exercise, eat right and get enough sleep.

She stays on-task and on budget.

She seeks control first—so that means she’s methodically researching, planning and budgeting her way through her day. She uses an arsenal of tech to assist her, even if it means spending some money to get the latest smart technology.

The Creative Controller knows that in the long run, it will save her precious time and money. Because she’s not a shopper, she looks to make her list, clip her coupons, get in the store and get out quickly. And she rarely deviates from that list.

She seeks to save valuable time and resources.

The Creative Controller says “no” to more things now, and is not afraid to turn down an invitation or commitment if it’s going to demand more of her time and resources than she feels ready to give.

She puts controls around her material possessions as well, looking for brands and products that help her get the chaos under wraps. We found that she lowers her stress by cleaning her house—even her refrigerator.

Making the Creative Controller’s list. So how can you connect with the Creative Controller?

 • Help her help herself. Ensure your product messaging is solutions-oriented and supports how it improves her life or that of her family. She’ll go online to compare product benefits and pricing, so make that information easy to find.

• Arm her with tools to help her plan and budget. Provide a budget calculator to show how she can afford your product, or offer comparison charts that demonstrate the value of your product over a competitor. Remember that she’s not just looking at the low-cost option; she’s seeking a high-quality product with proven benefits that is worth her spend.

• Make your retail environment one that is easy to navigate and intuitively designed, so she can maneuver in and out of it quickly.

While the Creative Controller represents the largest percentage of the mind-set population in our research, the next mindset exemplifies what many marketers envision as the ultimate female consumer. PRN

Maria Reitan is senior principal and chair of the Lifestyle Marketing and Marketing to Women unit at Carmichael Lynch Spong. She can be reached at

This article appeared in the August 26 issue of PR News. Subscribe to PR News today to receive weekly comprehensive coverage of the most fundamental PR topics from visual storytelling to crisis management to media training.