8 Refreshing Ways to Stay Creative When You’re on a Marketing Team
November 30, 2017 | KirstenLyons | Link
Thinking creatively and producing new original content is often what we sign up for when joining a marketing team. But sometimes the presence of the processes that make your team successful stifle your creative spark.
Meetings, directional strategies, reporting, emails, more meetings, ad infinitum…where do you find time to let your mind roam?
It’s not that collaboration, goal setting, team brainstorming, and group reviews are bad or annoying (although sometimes they definitely are), but rather that all that monotony can get in the way of your imagination.
But don’t worry, you’re not alone in your pursuit of creativity.
We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite ways to stay creative and get unstuck from the proverbial marketing mud when the same old, same old just gets…really old.
1. Take a Walk and Gawk
The power of stepping away from your desk is well documented – physical health, focus, and also summoning lightning bolts of inspiration.
Walk down a street with shops, through a mall, or even just to your favorite coffee shop. There are brilliant marketers and advertisers at work all around you, even if they’re not anywhere close to your industry or marketing niche.
Imagine standing up from your desk and seeing this vibrant window display at a nearby Timberland store.
Maybe these bold colors inspire you to liven up your old case study template, rethink your webinar branding, or make your social media posts stand out from the crowd.
2. Come Back to Your Values
2.75 million blog posts are published every day. All of that content being released into the ether means your prospects are likely overwhelmed. And because of that oversaturation, we can all spot inauthentic content from a mile away.
Research shows that your prospects buy for who you are, not what you’re selling– buyers overwhelmingly prioritize company values over specific product details.
Get un-stuck by coming back to your company values as a starting point.
For example, at SnapApp our battle cry is unleashing the potential in every marketer. Sure our favorite way to do that is through interactive content, but we also believe in investing our time and resources in helping all marketers reach their full potential, which is why we write articles like this one.
Start by listing out your company values, and apply them to the marketing challenge at hand. Create content, design collateral, or plan events that give you the opportunity to remind (or tell!) your prospects who you are, and what you stand for.
3. Break Out of the Branding Box
Branding is important. We have all seen the mayhem that can ensue when someone goes rogue with your style guide.
But sometimes holding tight to it for dear life can leave you in a templatized purgatory.
Find an image or poster that you love and build out a design from that. Start by creating to your wildest hopes and dreams, and then temper back to fit (loosely) within your brand guidelines.
Too often we get stuck in the trap of starting from what we are “allowed” to do, and miss opportunities to break out of brand guideline monotony. Instead, design and create to the emotions and actions you want your audience to experience when interacting with your content, and then tailor your vision to fit within brand guidelines.
4. Try a Content Type You’ve Never Experimented With Before
Does your content plan include four blog posts, a webinar, and an ebook every quarter?
If the answer is yes, chances are your audience is just as bored with engaging with your content as you are with creating it.
Getting the creative juices flowing can be as simple as forcing yourself out of old habits with a brand new content type.
Take HCSS, a company that provides software to support a variety of construction processes and projects, for example.
While construction software can be dry subject matter, they tried a brand new content format, and ran a “March Madness” themed bracket where they encouraged their customers to submit the most interesting construction projects that were completed using HCSS software.
Instead of focusing their energy on creating yet another ebook or white paper to drive engagement, creativity came with the territory of exploring how to make a brand new type of content and campaign.
Spoiler alert: It worked. Check out more on their ultra-creative campaign here.
5. Bake Creativity Into Formal Processes
Keeping creativity a high priority is vital for individual marketers and marketing organizations to be successful.
Because it’s so important for everyone on your team to be delivering on the fresh new ideas front, creativity needs to be baked into the DNA of how your team functions.
Even small processes and traditions matter in the pursuit of creativity.
On our marketing team we work to stay creative with our weekly sharing ritual of the kindergarten classic Show and Tell. Every Friday everyone on our team brings a representation of something they are proud of personally or professionally to share with the team, but the catch is creative representations are highly encouraged.
SnapApp’s SVP of Marketing recently wrote about why he champions doing Show and Tell with his team of very adult marketers, but the towers of Jenga blocks representing blog subscriber growth speak for themselves.
6. Get Granular
Is your pre-packaged messaging holding you back in finding new creative ways to connect with your audience?
Instead of being stifled by the same message you’ve been championing all year, consider going back to the source.
Focus on one particular buyer persona. Imagine what that person is doing right now, and distill your message to speak to them. Can you create content that maybe has a more narrow reach, but will resonate deeply with the pain points and objectives of a portion of your buyers?
Consider for example, Direct Energy Business, an energy and energy-related solutions provider. When creating content they focused in on the specific pains of their small-business owner customers: These were people who knew their industry inside and out, but weren’t energy-savvy.
They created an awareness campaign featuring man-on-the-street style interviews allowing their prospects to test their energy knowledge against “Average Joes” to help address their small business owners’ needs specfically.
Focusing on the unique needs of a subset of their audience led to unique and engaging content that they will be able to build on and repurpose – and we’d bet good money it will work for you too.
7. Look at Things From a New (Departmental) Perspective
All too often we get stuck in marketing land and forget that we are only part of an organization meeting a customer need.
We end up hyper focused on where our next MQL is coming from and forget to look at the customer experience holistically.
And the antidote for marketing-head-in-the-sand is a new perspective.
What is one issue sales sees prospects struggling with this quarter? What is customer success hearing more of recently? Sometimes non-marketers give the best marketing advice!
Take advantage of your team, and let their first-hand experience drive the direction of your creativity slump escape.
8. Look to What’s Happening in the World for New Ways to Connect With Your Audience
Whether you are B2B, B2C, or somewhere in between, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you are actually marketing to real humans with real lives and interests (that probably aren’t too far removed from your own!)
If you can’t stop talking to your friends about Stranger Things, it’s a good bet somewhere in your audience there are some folks who also want to geek out – spoiler free, of course.
Create content that recognizes the humanity in the people you are marketing to by writing about current events, holidays, or other connections you have with your audience.
Who isn’t filled with inspiration and wonder when they think about space exploration?
Building common ground into your content will not only make your content more timely and shareable, but often helps get your writing off on the right track because you’re writing about what you are already thinking about.
Have Fun With It!
Marketing for many of us has become more of a science than an art with the explosion of marketing automation and other technologies – and that’s great! Marketers have more opportunities than ever to understand and anticipate their audience’s needs.
But that also means that creativity can take a backseat to A/B testing in the modern marketing world.
Stay creative by challenging yourself to create new types of content that break brand guidelines, are informed by a different department, or connect you to your audience on a human level.