Optimize Your Marketing Brain Right Now
Marketing is inherently a creative process, but like any job, it’s possible to get stuck in a rut, leaving you with the marketer’s equivalent of writer’s block. Other times, you may just get overwhelmed and wish you had a more efficient way to handle your tasks.
Fortunately, help may be easier than you think. Try these five easy tips for boosting your marketing productivity:
1: Try Visual Management
Do you ever look at your to-do list and get lost in the names, numbers, facts, and figures when all you want to do is figure out what’s the highest priority? Visual management is a business organizational technique that drills down to the base level of understanding. Using whiteboards instead of computer screens, color codes and checks instead of written words, visual management is a way to organize nearly any process into a way of digesting information in one quick glance. It saves you time and grief by providing easily viewed, easily updated visual cues about what’s important and why. There are a number of books that go into the development and application of visual management, but it is a malleable process that can be adapted to nearly any segment of the marketing process (and even your home life).
2: Take A Walk
Whether you have an office, home office, or cart your laptop around to different coffee shops, it’s still very easy to get stuck in a rut when staring at your work screen all day. Take a walk to clear your head. Seriously, do it. Not only does it help put stressors into perspective and get your brain to fire off endorphins, many people use it as a means to drive creative solutions to difficult problems. For years, author Stephen King found daily walks of several miles to be the best way to brainstorm his stories. If it’s good enough for the man who created The Shining, The Stand, and The Dark Tower series, it’s probably worth checking out for your marketing problems.
3: Change Your Environment
This is similar to #2 but while still sitting in front of a work screen. If you’re in your main office, try working from home. If you’re in your home office, try a park or a coffee shop. If you usually work silently, play some classical music or vice versa. Human beings are creatures of habit, and those habits can limit creativity to just muscle memory and instinct. By changing up the environment — anything from your location, surrounding audio, temperature, even clothing — you can stimulate the creativity in your brain simply by forcing it to think differently. (Think different — that’s a compelling idea when it comes to marketing, isn’t it?)
4: Look Outside Your Industry
In business, it’s easy to get tunnel vision by focusing on your immediate competitors. However, marketing is ultimately the same thing, no matter the industry — it’s all about communicating a message of value to a target demographic. The marketing industry is filled with copycats, so a good practice is to spend regular time (say, once a month?) examining what is successful for completely different industries. If you’re in, say, the restaurant business, take a look and see what technology companies are doing for marketing and vice versa. Most of the time, you’ll probably encounter information that is not applicable. However, you’ll occasionally find a stroke of genius that combines a fresh new idea with your industry.
5: Embrace Technology
Some of us are technophiles, offices stacked with the latest and greatest (and most expensive) gadgets. Others are still using binders and pens. You don’t have to be someone in line for the first day of a new Apple product, but I definitely recommend that you embrace technology more than you fear it. Not just because it’s cool or because it’s fun to play Angry Birds while waiting for your lunch, but because apps have many options for helping you communicate, brainstorm, and organize more efficiently. Technology doesn’t have to control us the same way it does our teenage kids, but it can certainly make things easier…once you get over that virtual hump.
Marc Apple is a Strategist at Forward Push and VP of Marketing Strategy for the San Francisco American Marketing Association.