(Note: This is the second chapter of my book Write Right-Sell Now, available on Amazon.)
Bring a Little Imagination to What You Do
There are probably many people out there who do what you do, no matter what industry you are in. With digital marketing, they are communicating their message to new audiences in similar ways.
When the crowd veers right at the fork in the road, it may be time for you to hang a left. It’s more important now than ever to remember that there are multiple ways of doing things, and you don’t have to stay stuck in the patterns you witness other places.
It’s time to use some imagination. I am always looking for outside inspiration. Luckily, I rarely have to look further than my everyday life.
I spend the majority of my days surrounded by three-year-olds. My son and my dog are within a month of age, and both teach compelling lessons when it comes to life and business.
Watching the imagination of a toddler at work can be a great reminder on the importance of creativity.
I try to spend my evenings playing with my son. He recently invited me to sail out with him on his pirate ship, which coincidentally doubles as a fantastic cedar chest.
For a moment we were father-and-son pirates, sailing the open sea without leaving the living room. We sang that old pirate favorite, “Jingle Bells,” at my son’s persistent request.
No matter how ingrained you are in your industry, you can be the fresh set of eyes willing to do things a little differently. Sure, I can scoff at a three-year-old and tell him how ridiculous it would be to sit on a cedar chest singing “Jingle Bells” months after Christmas. But why would I? He’s got such a vivid imagination, and it’s beautiful. I don’t care who you are, when a three-year-old tells you to hop on his pirate ship and sing with him, it’s all hands on deck.
It’s time to view your marketing materials in a new light; to see what they could be.
Companies such as American Science and Surplus, Trader Joe’s, and The Dollar Shave Club all provide a terrifically fresh approach to their content and messaging. Seriously, Google any of them and you’ll be in for some entertaining reading.
Are you doing what you can to make your marketing materials original? Are you considering your industry, and your subject matter from all angles? Don’t take your writing too seriously. That three-year-old is calling you to sit on his pirate ship and sing “Jingle Bells.” Are you listening?
Any time you get on the computer, there are a thousand digital distractions. Facebook and Twitter beckon your attention, posts and comments need to be responded to, and e-mails flood your inbox. You can try justifying that responding to some of this is actually helping your marketing plans.
But is it really what you need to be doing at the time? Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. The reality is that you should have a marketing plan and goals, and each action you take should bring you closer to those goals. Like with imagination, I don’t have to look far to find my inspiration for focus.
My family and I adopted an 80-pound German shepherd/hound mix named Captain last summer. When we brought him home, he showed a few signs of separation anxiety. The previous owner also gave us a few clues indicating that anxiety could be an issue.
We knew we couldn’t stay home every minute of every day with our new family member, so we devised a plan. We crated him inside our laundry room thinking that would take care of the problem. I left the house for a few hours to work. When I returned, Captain greeted me at the front door.
I knew I had a problem. I followed our four-legged escape artist back to the scene of the crime. He freed the door on the crate without doing any damage to the crate or himself. Even more impressive was that he managed to claw and chew his way through my laundry room door in the short time I was away, leaving piles of wood shards scattered about. Luckily, he managed this without getting any splinters in his mouth or paws.
The door that once kept Captain contained, now had a German-shepherd-shaped hole on the right side. Nothing else in the basement was damaged that afternoon. He simply wanted out—he had a singular focus.
Captain remained obsessed with escaping confinement. Nothing in his physical environment distracted him from the importance of this mission. He wanted to be in the company of his new owners in the shortest amount of time possible.
I learned three valuable lessons from this initial episode with Captain:
- Hollow core doors suck.
- It takes a whole lot of blind trust (or stupidity) to give a destructive, uncratable dog free reign of the house.
- A key aspect of achieving results is maintaining focus.
As business owners, it is important to maintain focus. Otherwise, we become distracted by unnecessary noise. We may be able to convince ourselves that our business is better as a result of our social media or e-mail obsessions, but not if our time there is unfocused and not aimed at meeting our larger business goals.
There is likely a larger goal that requires more focus. It’s important to have a plan to complete the truly meaningful tasks that advance our businesses, and stick with it. You should know what those tasks are, and filter out the background noise. Understand your big-picture goals, and make sure that everything you do within your content marketing works toward those goals.
Captain has become my new shining example of focus. He is a specialist with a lot of talent. He has gotten off his leash in the past and quickly found his way home. I wish I were as good at anything as Captain is at seeking the company of his people.
As business owners, we need to stay focused on our marketing plans and finding the solutions to grow our business. How much time are you spending working on advancing your business, and how much are you caving to your distractions?
Can you muster up the same singularity of focus as a dog on a mission?
Matt Brennan is a Chicago area marketing writer and copy editor. He is also the author of Write Right-Sell Now, How to Create Content That Will Grow Your Business.