Feeling stuck? Here’s 3 steps you can take to jump start a creative marketing strategy.
I’ve seen two extremes:
- Dreamers: Highly creative people with lots of ideas, but who have trouble implementing ideas into a successful strategy
- Doers: Highly competent people with lots of smarts, but who have trouble generating new ideas or breaking out of the box
This post is primarily for you, Doers. But it could even help the Dreamers.
When you’re out of ideas, try these 3 ways to get creative juices flowing again:
One of the easiest ways to spark marketing ideas is to imitate what other businesses or nonprofits are doing. Ain’t no shame in that. Why reinvent the wheel if you can get quick success using creative or strategy that’s already been tested?
- Get on the mailing lists of other nonprofits or businesses
- Follow social media and advertising efforts of your industry leaders
- Look outside your industry to gain inspiration
If you’re a dentist, take a look at what other successful businesses in your area are doing.
I try to follow nonprofits that are similar to mine across the country. When I see something great, I’ll call or email to learn more about it so we can try it in our city.
But I also look to the business world, which tends to be more cutting edge than nonprofits. I pay attention to advertising blogs, graphic design trends, and social media campaigns.
Imitation is the “crawl” phase. You can get by that way for awhile.
But it’s not enough to just imitate. I like to say, “Copycats get the crumbs.” If you really want marketing growth, you’ve got to up your game.
REMEMBER: It’s fine to copy an idea. But if that’s all you do, you’ll never reach your potential.
Time to go from crawling to walking.
You’ve found an idea that works — like a direct mail piece from another business or nonprofit. If you imitate it exactly, there’s a decent chance it could bomb.
Why? Because strategy comes out of necessity. That direct mail piece was created to solve a specific problem and reach a specific demographic. But you probably have different needs and a different demographic.
Rather than chuck the idea, let’s iterate it. What tweaks can we find to make it work for you? Start with your own objectives and audience.
- Change headlines to include words you know your audience responds to
- Rewrite body copy to make it sound more like you
- Swap photos and creative elements to tie in to your local market
- Use the same theme, but change the overall layout and/or size
If you’re tweaking your own past ideas, be sure to change just one major element at a time and A/B split test your changes so you can measure effectiveness.
REMEMBER: A key step for growth is making iterative changes to successful strategies. Test your ideas carefully.
Now you’re ready to run!
For me, this is where it gets fun. I’m a Dreamer and a Doer, so I’m never really satisfied unless we’re pushing ourselves and building new things.
Take time to dream a little.
What idea would I try if I had unlimited money?
What is just odd enough that it would get people’s attention?
What can we do that would be first, new or different?
How about a new venue? A different event? A brand new mailing? A wacky promotion? A new ad campaign?
Short on funds? Slash your budget where things have been unproductive (like newspaper advertising, ahem). Cultivate a corporate sponsor to help cover the costs of a new effort.
REMEMBER: Fresh ideas come from asking yourself challenging questions. Take time to do it.
Imitate. Iterate. Innovate. Crawl. Walk. Run.
Use all three of these stages to launch your creative marketing strategies and keep them fresh.