Ask a Mentor: How Do I Keep the Creative Juices Flowing?

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Compiled and edited by Julie Tereshchuk

Ask a MentorDear Mentors,

I produce content for a company with a limited product line, and I’m running out of ideas. How do I keep the creative juices flowing?

Yours, Feeling Flat

Dear Feeling Flat,

I often dig up this Ultimate List of Blog Ideas by Digital Marketer to help me while I brainstorm blogs and other online content.

You should also ask your sales and service people regularly what question they’re getting from customers or potential customers. Even if a product stays the same, pain points and concerns with it can evolve over time. For instance, if the product is connected online, there’s no doubt security is becoming a growing concern that may not have been a big deal five years ago. There may be a need for ongoing content in some of those emerging areas. You can snoop around social media to find out what your target audience is reading and sharing to gather ideas there. Be sure to keep an eye on competitors and what works well for them, too.

Plus, don’t be afraid to reuse ideas. Track what content does well (if it’s online content, that’s easy to do: look at the analytics) and decide if it should turn into a series (if a customer spotlight does well, do it more often), a regularly updated post (like a yearly state of the industry report or a holiday gift guide) or to just piggyback on it (if a back-to-school post does well, why not a “school’s out” post)?

And, finally, look into alternate ways to share the same info. Maybe it’s time to incorporate infographics, quizzes or videos. 

Yours,

LuAnn Glowacz

Dear Feeling Flat,

It’s time to solicit customer feedback! Outside perspectives from the people who actually use the product is a great way to breathe new life into your marketing copy. Create a short survey and provide an incentive to customers to complete it, like a drawing for a prize. Ask things like “why did you choose [product] over others, what’s your favorite thing about it, what keeps you coming back?” Customer input will provide new language and new angles for your marketing approach.

Yours,

Maura Thomas

Dear Feeling Flat,

I don’t have any personal tips but there are some great ideas here: Out of Ideas? 13+ Tools to Spark Content Creation

Also, this free webinar might be useful. I know the speakers and it should be really good:

Yours,

Jenny Magic

Dear Feeling Flat,

Lord knows, we all suffer from creative burn out now and again. Here are a few ideas I hope will help:

  • Break out of your routine and examine the goals behind your work. Schedule at least a couple half-days away from the office and email to review existing marketing plans and goals. Pick them apart. Does anything need to be changed? Thrown out? Are they still supporting your company’s mission and goals? An audit might spur new ways to be creative. 
  • Take a close look at what your competitors are doing with their marketing. How does yours compare? Consider how your content can change to connect with customers in ways your competition isn’t.
  •  Get a copy of Steal Like an Artist by local author Austin Kleon. Read it. Repeat.
  • Replenish your creative well. Go out to hear live music, see a dance performance, or listen to an author or an artist speak about their work.

Yours,

Liz Carmack

Dear Feeling Flat,

Although I don’t know what the product is and whether it’s used for fun or work, I do have a few suggestions:

  1. Look for a fun or interesting angle you haven’t used before. I will often read what others involved in a similar venture have written on the topic to spark new ways of looking at something or telling a story about it.
  2. Talk to friends and acquaintances and engage them in a discussion about the product. Have they ever heard of this product, used it and what questions do they have about it? If several people mention the same thing—a common misconception about the product, for example–it could produce a story that you had not previously considered.
  3. In a similar vein, I think it can be stimulating to consider telling the product’s story from different points of view. For example, if you’ve told it from the company’s perspective, consider telling it from the consumer’s perspective. What drew the consumer to try the product and how do they like using it? If the person is interesting, you can tell the story about the product in a more personally compelling way. Also, are there any well-known folks who love using whatever this thing is? Telling their story could be fun, too.
  4. Or, you could tell the story from the inventor’s perspective. How did the person stumble upon this great thing and what hurdles did they have to overcome to move from idea to widget sold on Amazon (or wherever)?

Yours,

Mary Ann Roser

 

Got your own career conundrum you’d like advice on?

Then sign up for the WCA mentor program. It’s free to members!

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About Jennifer Van Gilder

A marketing research and health communications professional passionate about doing work that changes lives for the better. Adept team leader able to develop and execute integrated, multichannel public awareness campaigns and community-based solutions.

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