Writer’s block is something that writers write about when they cannot think of anything else to write about. Luckily, it’s not something that affects me. I believe you can find inspiration everywhere. You just need to train your mind to seek it out and look a little further than your office cubicle.
Because creative marketing cannot be forced, sitting in front of a computer screen can be the most unproductive thing a marketer can do. Yes, you might put in a 40-hour workweek, chained to your office desk, but how many of those hours are really productive? (I’m guessing less than 25%.)
I’m lucky in the fact that I’ve broken free from the standard nine-to-five schedule and I’m free to explore, discover and develop as many ideas as my little brain can dream up. Not living life by the clock doesn’t mean I take liberties — I probably work longer hours than most — so it’s a good job I love what I do. (If you don’t, isn’t it time you made some changes?)
I’m always on the hunt for inspiration. This probably comes from a mind-set I nurtured while working (many years ago) as a freelance journalist. As a freelancer, I believed I was as good as my last story. If I didn’t pitch at least once a day, I considered the day lost. I was successful as a freelancer, while better writers failed because I understood that sales skills and relationships with news desks were almost as important (if not more so) than the actual story. I also played the numbers game, believing if the quality was there, the more I told, the more I sold.
That’s not to say that all my ideas were good ones. Some fell flat on their faces. But the discipline I established for myself has stood me in good stead in my role as a content and email marketer. I never switch off, and as a result, I’m rarely at a loss for things to say or write about.
Ideas come to me from many places:
- They come to me when I’m out and about, meeting clients, prospects, and people in general.
- They come to me while I’m reading the newspapers and watching the news.
- They come to me from conversations with colleagues (although I never ask them to come up with the ideas for me).
- I take a lot of inspiration from the biographies of rock stars (many of whom have a work ethic to shame even the most successful CEOs).
- Ideas jump into my head while I’m cycling along the quiet coastal road to my office (exercise is a wonderful creative tool).
- One of my most lucrative ideas came to me while standing in the checkout queue at my local supermarket.
So when I meet marketers who don’t enjoy the kind of freedom that helps me thrive, I feel a little sorry for them and wonder how they will ever succeed.
Last week, I spoke with a junior marketer who told me she rarely left her office. She was never invited to team meetings, she didn’t visit clients, and her boss insisted on a rigid, nine-to-five working day (complete with fixed coffee breaks and lunch hours — be back by 1 pm or else!). Her marketing output was, at best, dull, comprising of boring newsletters, tired blog posts and sales copy that screamed “sales copy” — and she knew this.
She was like a caged animal, monotonously repeating the same “marketing” moves, week in and week out. Her dull creatives (all of which had to be approved by an endless stream of senior managers, who all did their best to dilute the message further) did little to inspire client engagement, and many of her tasks revolved around the fact that they’d always been done that way. New ideas didn’t come easily because they weren’t encouraged, and even if they were, where was the inspiration going to come from?
If you’re sitting, reading this and wondering where your next idea is going to come from, I suggest you log off, go for a walk, take the time to speak to your customers, spend some time helping colleagues out in a different department, go to networking events, invite yourself to meetings, read books and newspapers (often), and spend as little time in front of your screen as you can.
When you do find yourself in front of a screen again, you’ll find the content almost writes itself.
Isn’t it time you set your marketing spirit free?
This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.