For many marketers, the hardest part of their job isn’t the sale, it’s the creative aspect. Unlike so many of the skills required to be proficient in marketing, creativity can’t be turned on and off like a light switch… usually.
There are a few basic things you can do to help get the creative process started—like switching off your phone, closing your door, and just letting your mind go where it will. On a little deeper level, there are a few more things you need to master in order to really get your creative game on and create a marketing mindset that’s conducive to the task at hand.
The ones I want to bring to your attention right now are your…
Culture and environment.
What do I mean by perceptions? I’m really referring to the ways your mind interprets what is going on all around you. Not so much “what you see,” but rather “how your mind interprets what you’re seeing.”
Think about that for a moment, because there is a difference in meaning.
For example, your perceptions are what give life to the stereotypes you believe in. They can also contribute to your limited vision, or your inability to see the “big picture.” Your perceptions color everything you do, and they way you do it. They build up habits that may be keeping you stuck in old thought patterns and actions.
As an exercise, stop and consider your perceptions of “tradition” vs. “change”? Is it your unconscious comfort with perceived traditions that’s keeping you stuck in your current situation?
To be creative, you must be in touch with your emotions. You cannot be truly creative without some emotion; logic does not create art; passion does! Emotions are the barometers of how we feel, and how we feel can directly impact our creative impulse.
For example, if unexpected setbacks or surprises on projects leave you feeling uncomfortable and feeling a little foolish, odds are you’re not going to take risks—to avoid that feeling you’ll tend to play things safe. Unfortunately, the creative process demands risk-taking and 100% commitment—if your nature is to fear taking risks because you’re afraid you’ll make a mistake or fail, you’re not going to be an effective problem solver because idea creation is messy.
If you can change the ways you think, and open yourself to new courses of action, nine times out of 10 you’ll see more creativity and better results.
Cultural and environmental blocks to your creative impulses are more numerous, but a little harder to pinpoint, too. Cultural blocks can be traced back to how your cultural while growing up regarded creativity. Was it encouraged by your family, friends, and school? Were artistic endeavors frowned upon, with the emphasis instead placed on hard work and conformity? Cultural blocks can also include workplace issues, other people’s opinions, or a lack of cooperation or enthusiasm among colleagues and co-workers.
Environmental blocks to creativity tend to be in the here and now, and most often boil down to distractions. You know, phone calls and pagers, loud conversations, and other visual and auditory intrusions. All of these things can block your creativity, so the best advice is to be creative as far away from the real world as possible. Treat the search for creativity as you would meditation—seek out quiet, relaxing, calm environments and then just let your mind do the rest.
With that in mind, think about your business, your products and services. Have you ever had a big idea that you didn’t take action on? Can you remember why you didn’t take action—was it your perceptions, emotions or environment that got in your way? If it was, don’t feel too bad… you’re definitely not alone. In fact, it almost happened to me.
Cue the flashback…
In 1986, I invented a product line that was used to store bicycles inside your home or apartment… maybe you’ve seen them in the Sky Mall Magazines on airplanes, in Sharper Image, sporting goods stores or other specialty catalogs. The main line was hand-crafted from solid oak and was a compact, tension-mount system that went from floor to ceiling and held two bikes, protecting your bikes and your home.
In the beginning, I tried several different ways to get the product to market. It was a tough first year and I thought about quitting many times. I can assure you that my own perceptions, emotions and my environment got in the way more than just a few times, but I was determined to make this work so I started rethinking my strategies. With some creativity and innovation, and using a new-and-improved mindset, I was eventually able to sell more than $28 million worth of product in just a few years.
I’ve used this same “taking stock of your perceptions inventory” again and again to help clients differentiate themselves in a competitive market, to help them create and launch incredible publicity campaigns; to build amazing websites and implement online marketing strategies that created virtual money-machines.
I’ve seen people re-evaluate their thought processes and perceptions and come up with cutting-edge, successful advertising concepts, while at the same time improve other areas of their businesses beyond the marketing department.
Are you allowing self-imposed, unconscious limitations hold you (and your business) back? Why not make today the day when you break through those limitations, tap your internal resources, and start harnessing your innate creativity. You deserve it!
If you’d like to learn how to write more creative and inspired marketing copy, check out Randy Gage’s 12-part study course “How to Become a Copywriting Stud!” in our online Success Store.