Where do you find your inspiration?
Visual artists, writers, and people in other “traditionally creative” fields can usually answer this question without hesitation. Interior designers devour House Beautiful, Veranda, and Southern Living. Visual artists frequent galleries and museums, and writers read books in and out of their chosen genre. But other professions can benefit from regular exposure to new ideas as well.
I think sometimes in Marketing, we worry that if we are looking at other campaigns, we will just end up copying them, which may not “count” as original work. If you are one of those people, please drop what you are doing and immediately order this book: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. I found it in a bookstore several years ago and I could not put it down. It explains “good stealing” and “bad stealing” so much better than I ever could. As Kleon points out, if we consume garbage, we will create garbage – this applies to anyone who creates… content marketers, digital marketers, corporate communicators, ad executives all included.
So back to my original question, where do you find your inspiration? And just as importantly, how do you make sure that you are regularly inspired?
Here are a couple quick tips to stay properly inspired without spending hours “looking for inspiration” each week:
- Identify the top awards in your field and set a reminder to review the winning entries each year. In the agency world, this is easier because your teams are typically preparing entries in advance of each award deadline. But try to take the time to quickly review the winners each year. Even if you don’t completely like everything about each entry, you are bound to walk away with new ideas about what a successful campaign looks like.
- Identify the top blogs in your field and add them to your morning routine (or lunch routine, or evening commute reading, whatever works best). I recommend keeping your list to the top five blogs or fewer, so they don’t take over your life. The goal is quality content over quantity. And if you aren’t a blog person or if you are really swamped, check out podcasts! I’ve struggled to identify good Marketing podcasts in the past, but I recently started checking out the rainmaker.fm content and I’m very intrigued.
- Read or follow some news sources just because you like them. It doesn’t matter if you are obsessed with the royal family, or rock climbing, or if you love to cook – identify the top blogs/magazines/twitter feeds related to your personal hobbies and integrate those into your day as well. As long as the content is high quality, then you are adding quality inspiration to your life. And again, I would recommend sticking with the top two or three sources so that they don’t take over your life.
- Get in the habit of asking other people for their inspiration. I am sure my friends and family have noticed that I have started doing more of this lately, but there is too much good stuff out there to find it all myself! And besides, I would rather be on the same page as my colleagues, than read something just because “everyone else” is reading it. The next time you are waiting for a conference call to start, find out what your colleagues have been watching, reading, or listening to. It is way more interesting than talking about the weather.**
** I do not recommend starting this conversation with “So… read any good books lately?”
I would recommend this approach instead: “So I have been reading X and Y, but I’m wondering what I should read next…” That way the other person can either react to what you have already read or they can give you a suggestion, but you aren’t putting them on the spot to be brilliant.