Originality is a topic near and dear to my heart lately. All digital marketers want to be the person to come up with that great idea that gets acclaim, wins awards, and proves amazing value and ROI for their client. We are in a world that went from tactics back to overall marketing but in a digital age. Small businesses are competing with larger ones and we are all on the same global stage.
I just gave a talk to KahenaCon in Jerusalem on originality – based off of a Will Smith song. I’ll admit, it was fun doing a presentation that was different, but I stood up and told everyone that originality is not something that just happens one day. It happens due to conversations and relationships. Individuals don’t come up with great ideas on their own. We are all inspired.
Afterwards, an attendee hit me with a question that really made me think. His question was centered around how does he get his employees (he runs a boutique digital marketing agency) to be more creative and original? What can he do as a business owner to help this along?
It’s really hard to say “Be Original” and then walk away. So to that attendee and everyone else, here are some ideas for you, for your employees, for your vendors. Yes, I mean your vendors. If you are in-house and have a vendor, push these ideas at them and maybe you can help inspire ideas in them that will help your business and your goals.
1. Have lunch with a business contact.
We all have contacts in our cities and across the world that we mean to keep up with but feel like we never have time. Get into your LinkedIn connections. Find people in your area and set up lunch dates. Talk about everything on your mind at the moment and you’ll be amazed what someone else’s frame of mind can do. If you have someone you have been meaning to connect with over many miles, set up a Google Hangout or Skype call during your lunch hour and connect with that person. Talking to someone else and sharing experiences can really inspire some great ideas!
This idea is inspired by two coworkers at Distilled, Kristina Kledzik and Bridget Randolph. They have coffee meetings every few weeks over Google Hangouts and there have been some fantastic ideas that have sprung from those meetings.
2. Get out of the office at least once a week for a few hours.
Think about getting our of your office for a few hours. Go work from a cafe, a co-working space, or a park. Take time to look around – and if you can gain the courage, talk to other people working in the same space. Buy them a coffee and ask some questions about their life, tell them about what you are facing right now, and let the magic happen!
If you have employees, push them to do this, especially for agencies. The more connections and relationships your people make, the more business you might gain, and the better ideas they will have. This is not the easiest thing to do but with practice, it’ll get easier for everyone to spark conversations and see the world in new ways.
3. Start a creative journal.
In college, I was an advertising minor. We had to take a class called creative advertising and it was my favorite class. We had to complete 50 entries into a creative journal. That was all to the assignment. Just 50 creative entries. Anything that we deemed creative. When you are forced, by assignment, to find creativity, you start to see that everything is creative.
One of my favorite entries was a story I wrote based on random quotes I wrote down from conversations that passed me by one afternoon outside a building as I waited for a friend. I took those quotes, snippets of conversations, and made a story. Another entry was an interview of a guy that talked so many people into playing leapfrog one day while waiting for the bus.
Get a blank journal, take the next 60 days and document the creativity in your world. Anything and everything. It’s amazing how your mind changes when you start to see all the creativity.
4. Read Aha! and Practice Creativity
This tip comes from college as well, from the same class. One of our books was Aha! and it inspired so much in my way of thinking about advertising and marketing. I recommend reading it and doing the exercises in it. Creativity is something to be practiced and a muscle to be exercised. The paper book doesn’t seem to be in print, but you can get it for the Kindle.
Really want your employees to feel inspired, buy this book for them. You can gift a kindle book to any email address!
5. Do something physical.
The best ideas come from others, and this one comes from Joanna Lord. You know how it goes. If you step away from a problem, you give your brain the time to put the pieces together. Going for a run, hitting a yoga class, doing an hour of crossfit, you name it … it puts your mind on something else and lets your subconscious take control of putting the pieces together.
Working out is one of the best things to do to get the creative juices flowing. Next time a brainstorm just isn’t helping, get out of the office and get your blood pumping. You’d be amazed at what your brain can do during and after a good workout.
How do you do it? Any tips for other business owners, digital marketers, and creative thinkers?