Everyone falls into a rut sometimes. We all have distractions, and it’s simply part of our nature to grow accustomed to a routine. This can often mean that our creativity suffers, and it can be difficult to haul ourselves back up onto the creative “road less traveled.” If you could use some help kickstarting a fresh flow of ideas and/or trying to get around a creative block, this post is for you.
My “Top 5” Tips:
- Say Yes to Something New
Routine is the quickest way to build a creative block. When we develop habits and routines, our minds can go on autopilot, and we no longer feel challenged or excited by the world around us. It can be even more difficult to break out of this rut when you realize that you need to step outside of your comfort zone.
Start with something small that’s completely new or foreign to you. Sign up for a local class. Try an intriguing recipe. Accept an invitation to a party you would normally decline. Shoot, try a sci-fi Netflix binge. I like to say, sometimes you need to “contaminate” you’re thinking to shake your mind out of its stupor.
- Feed Your Mind With “Creative Snacks”
Chances are good that you encounter plenty of inspiration in your day-to-day life, even if you don’t realize it. “Creative Snacking” is simply allowing yourself to notice these things.
When you’re running errands, take a moment to appreciate the aesthetics of a store display. Pay attention to color stories and patterns in shop windows. Search Instagram accounts that feature unique images and design ideas. Even if you aren’t actively cataloging these things for a specific project, your brain will remember them for future endeavors, and you’ll be more aware of the world around you.
- Give Yourself Space to Create…or Not Create
It’s far too easy to fill up your day with tasks that make you busy. In today’s society, being busy is often equated with being successful, but what often happens is you come up with some strategic ideas, then you get so invested in the delivery of those ideas that you run out of time for new ideas. Instead of stuffing your calendar full, set aside a few blocks of time that are solely for creating.
You can use this time to work on active projects, come up with new ideas, or feed your imagination with fresh fodder for later projects. Give yourself space to work on something you enjoy, but allow yourself to just be still and refreshed if you’re not feeling inspired. Whether you create or don’t, having dedicated time to look forward to can release stress and allow you to be more open to creative pursuits.
- Start “Creativity Cross-Training”
Often, one of the best ways to find inspiration is by switching mediums. If you’re a painter, try drawing or sculpting. If you like word games, switch to numbers. If you enjoy writing, why not choose a style completely opposite your own? Even if you’re not comfortable in this new medium, you can learn a great deal and find fresh ideas.
- Switch From Brainstorming to Mind Mapping
Instead of listing out ideas in a brainstorming session, try mind mapping. This is a visual tool that helps you organize ideas, notes, projects and problem-solving in a creative, connected way. Allowing yourself to use pictures, colors, and connecting lines to organize information can lead to solutions you may not have otherwise considered.
These small, simple ideas are excellent and easy ways for you to reignite the creative spark of your imagination.
The two terms might seem similar but they are very different things. Entertainment Marketing (today more commonly known as “Influencer Marketing”) is a strategy that leverages influential brands and/or personalities to promote a brand/product (most often a celebrity or the new bread of “social media influencers”). Sometimes they are more intentional endorsements, e.g., Ellen, “I’m easy, breezy, beautiful, CoverGirl”, other times it’s less obvious product placement, e.g., Marky Mark pounding a Bud after saving the day. The concept is not new but has evolved over time (I’ll have a post on Influencer Marketing in the coming weeks).
As for “Marketing Entertainment”, a topic I’m often asked about, there are certainly some nuances that are unique to the entertainment space. (The following dives into live event entertainment marketing. I’ll post something soon with more focus on recorded/studio entertainment marketing).
When marketing events and/or entertainers, the strategy is to create emotional excitement. Marketing entertainment is about motivating or inspiring an audience to purchase something that they “want” vs. “need” by selling the thrill of being there to witness that once-in-a-lifetime event and be part of something larger than themselves.
Direct off of a former office wall: “Our mission is to lift the human spirit by gathering communities around exceptional live experiences. These indelible memories echo long after the last bit of confetti is swept. It’s what lights up the eyes and gives hearts something to hold onto when times are tough. Sacred moments that will never be reprised in exactly that same way.”
Marketing Venues – Most artists set shows prices the same regionally regardless of theatre, so that’s not a differentiator. You’ll focus on your venue’s “value proposition”. Why/how would the guest experience be better at your venue? I’ve been told things like “but my venue is pretty standard, other than the act itself, there’s not very much interesting about the venue.” Challenge yourself to be creative and go beyond what others are too lazy to do.
Start by finding stories to tell, the history or inspiration of the venue, the ownership, or the location. Even food vendors’ stories or recipes can provide good content. Share a time lapse of the setup before or teardown after a show. Take the tips from the “plan your visit” section of your site and make that more fun and interesting. Reproduce as infographics or videos.
Create/activate iconic areas or elements of your venue (possibly my favorite example would be the elevator at the Beacon Theater), social channel #hashtags & filters, and any other ideas to help guests create that “FOMO” feeling amongst friends/followers.
Besides shows, entertainment destinations like gaming halls or casinos have to recognize that you are not competing with other casinos, you are competing with anything else there is to do nearby. Bars, bowling alleys, etc. You sell an experience, sell it.
Marketing Shows – Again, this is purely an aspirational purchase. No one “needs” to see a show, your job is to excite and invite your guests. The perception is that most guests are looking for the best price, my experience has shown that guests are actually looking for the best value. There is a big difference. Guests want to feel like they are part of something relatively exclusive and something they can relive (and brag about) later. Pro tip: That also creates a great opportunity for organic promotion “customer endorsement” (which carries much further than your paid media efforts).
The obvious place to start is with any history the event/performer(s) might have at the venue. For example, let’s say there will be a tribute concert to someone at the exact venue where that “someone” got started. Further, let’s say that that “someone” was popular in the 1970s. The person in charge of marketing entertainment might, in addition to doing straight-up advertising of the tribute concert itself, leverage the nostalgia that fans felt 40 years ago when that first concert got started. The event could be presented as a “leisure suit and platform shoes” shindig, and guests at the event could sip 1970s wine vintages (*sponsorship opportunity) while waiters with 4-inch lapels served them.
As marketers “today”, we are lucky to be able to listen to what consumers want (in real time). We know audiences, or “fans” follow and engage directly with celebrities and brands, do a little research for your promotion strategy and see what, and who, you can leverage.
Marketing Celebrities – Despite what many may think, famous/influential people are not all the same. I used to believe that the longer someone has been “famous” the harder it is for them to hear “no”, and although that is something of a theme, there are many exceptions so be careful of that. The reason I emphasize this is, perhaps, needless to say, there is no better promotion vehicle than the artists themselves. What’s crazy is that some artists (without dropping any names) won’t promote their own show without getting paid…to promote their own show…on their own accounts!
Always ask (and try to get it in the contracts) but also try to get other celebrities to help promote, get the label to promote (and push for support from other artists on the label). Always tag the artists in your posts and get some tickets over to your local outlets to help promote. At the least, you’ll likely get support from the fans 😉
In conclusion, “Entertainment Marketing” (or Celebrity Endorsement/Influencer Marketing) can be used to “Market Entertainment” (shows/events, brands/bands/entertainers/personalities, etc.), but they are two different terms for two very different things. Entertainment Marketing is exciting (and creates the opportunity for marketing folk to mingle with celebs), but there’s a lot of fraud happening these days, so be careful. Also be careful who you align yourself with. Market Entertainment is just damn hard (super exciting) work :).
For those who are struggling to find something, even if you already have a job, I know it can be frustrating, even demoralizing. Given all the connectivity and big companies failing, there are a lot more talented people in the pool looking for good roles. Just keep swimming and leverage your contacts!
For those out of work, there will be bad days. Some of the best advice I’ve heard is to “focus on small wins” – Watch this Navy Seal Admiral Shares Reasons to Make Bed Every day. Stay current (tips here – “My” Daily Marketing Shortlist), consider some pro-bono work (I like Taproot)… And I know how crazy it sounds when you’re out of work but try volunteering for a cause, Make-A-Wish® America, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, etc. It may open doors, it will certainly open eyes – PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING!
Much of below may not be as relevant for more senior level folks but I did this for a close family friend who was just laid off after 30 years. Apparently, it’s been making its way around so if it can help anyone, I’m happy. Reach out to me directly if I can be of any help (email@example.com).
My “Top 5” Tips:
1. Update Your Resume – You want something “ATS Friendly” (Applicant Tracking Systems), which means it will get through all those filtering tools like Taleo, ADP, etc.
- Here are some free templates to start from – https://uptowork.com/blog/google-docs-resume-templates
- These guys are great at optimizing resumes and validating “ATS ready” – https://resumes-experts.com/
- A good resource for your job hunt will be TheMuse, and here are some good articles from Mashable
- And a great executive coach I can recommend, Steven Yorra – firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Update your LinkedIn Profile – Reference mine – it’s pretty well optimized.
4. Connect with Contacts – Let them know you are on the market. DON’T BE SHY! Given how large the applicant pool is today, odds are, your next role will come through a friend in some way. Have lunch/coffee/drinks with people that are well connected in the space you are interested in. Join online professional groups (engage, post comments, etc.) and attend networking events. Also, try joining some activities, yoga, dance, cooking, acting, try Toastmasters, and/or join a gym (getting fit will also be a big help).
5. Do Some Work:
- Research Companies – I always suggest those earlier in their careers to identify the companies they are interested or agencies that do the work for them (that’s a good way to get exposure or find a way in). Tips for identifying: look at the communications/messages the company puts out, e.g., press releases, content, ads, etc. Really research the culture. Look at the companies/brands they associate themselves with and who they are compared to. Look into the leaders (from top to middle mgmt.) I’ll go as far as to hang out at the nearby bars to observe/meet some of the team.
- Write Articles – About your experiences and/or best practices in your space (short is fine, 3-5 paragraphs). Don’t worry about not having many people comment/like your articles. That’s not as important as you’d think. It’s important that you are getting visibility by showing up in contacts feeds – keeping you top of mind. Pro Tip: Having articles will also be very helpful to reference in introduction emails and/or interview follow-ups.
- Pitch Something – This is a bit riskier and laborious investment but can pay off big and seems to be more and more expected with the growing saturation of candidates. It doesn’t have to be exactly right – conceptual is fine – the hiring exec understands you are on the outside looking in (it can even have segments referencing something you did somewhere else) but if you can offer a good logical/creative idea that presents your approach, that can really set you apart.
And lastly, the provocative topic: “Recruiters”. You’ll hear different things from different people – and like every other profession, there is a heavy proportion of mediocre to great (but I have met a few that were amazing). My experience has been that recruiters are focused on filling positions they have been retained for vs. playing the role of “agents” for job seekers. To be clear, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t reach out to recruiters, you never know, there might just have a role that you are perfect for on their board. At the least, you want to be on their radar. I’m just suggesting that you shouldn’t expect them to stay closely connected like your real estate agent might 😉
Oh, and don’t do this!
Time is our most valuable asset and the world is noisier than ever. As such, we devote less time to really listen which leads to compromised results. Whether that’s bringing home the wrong flavor of ice cream (“I asked for strawberry!”), an inaccurate product/feature deliverable, or simply a less compelling response to a question (which can cost you a job or promotion).
Listening — really hearing, builds/strengthens relationships and solves problems. Personally and professionally.
Here are my “Top 5” tips:
Tip #1. Stop Anticipating and Trust Your Inner DJ
We tend to instinctually think that anticipating the next comment or question will better prepare us to give a better response. As such, while your conscious mind is listing to what’s being said, it’s also “digging through the crates” for what great answer/example/story you can give – the problem is, that means you’re not paying as much attention, potentially compromising your response.
You don’t need to prep, you’re sharp. Just listen to the question/comment with full attention and “trust your inner DJ” (your subconscious) to pull the right album.. ahem, answer. You’ll nail it.
Tip #2. Be Focused
Listen with genuine interest and intent to learn. Listen not just for words but also for tone, pace, mood, etc. Observe expression through the eyes, mouth, and shoulders. Don’t get distracted by your feelings on the statement. Screen out distractions like background activity and/or the speaker’s gestures, accent, speech impediments, etc. Focus, focus, “squirrel!” — refocus.
Tip #3. Listen with Your Face
Needless to say, don’t be looking at your phone/screen but looking down can be just as bad. Face the speaker, look them in the eye (even if they don’t look back), smile, nod (but not too much!), look surprised, etc. Be confident, comfortable (but sit up!), and most of all.. interested. Visual disinterest, shyness, and/or uncertainty = #fail
Step 4: Validate and Ask Questions
Don’t interrupt or try to finish the speaker’s sentences! Confirm you are listening, that you understand and that you care by expressing (as mentioned above) through a smile, nod, “yeah”, “exactly”, “nooo”, “really?!”. Then, once the statement is completely made, ask questions. Not for the sake of asking but with genuine curiosity. Sometimes the questions alone can lead to an interesting place.
Timing is everything, though. Make sure the question is relevant or it will send a message of disinterest or derail and lead things in an awkward direction. Make sure to think through what and how you ask. It’s fine to pause and take time to think it through. I like to use facial expressions to show a question is being composed.
Step 5: Don’t be a Hero — Don’t Try to Solve Everything
The quicker a thinker you are, the harder this will be but let the speaker express their thought completely and feel heard. Let them feel you empathize (feel me?). Then, and only after the topic/story is completely expressed, it’s not inappropriate to share a story or idea of a technique/product that it would be valuable – but do it tactfully -AND ONLY if you feel it would be appreciated. Read the room.
I’m often asked about resources and inspiration. The articles on my old blog are just too outdated so here’s a quick updated consolidation.
Who do you follow online? Seth Godin, Guy K., Gary V., Neil Patel, Jay Baer, etc. – many are great and if you have the bandwidth, you should follow them all. Everyone else should find those who speak the gospel for “you”. For me, at the top of my list is Ted Rubin. Do you follow him? You should. He offered me some genuine wisdom last night which actually inspired this post.
Here are my personal “Top 5’s” (*Note – this is not to say anyone I left out is not fantastic, these are just the people/pubs that resonate most with me):
- Ted Rubin – top social marketing strategist, speaker, and acting CMO of Brand-Innovators and Co-Founder of Prevailing Path
- Shelly Palmer – named LinkedIn’s No. 1 Voice in Technology for 2017
- Gary Vaynerchuk – super provocative, straight hustle, smack in the face with reality – not for the faint of heart
- Brian Solis – principal analyst at Altimeter Group, futurist, digital anthropologist, author & speaker
- Scott Galloway – Marketing Professor at NYU Stern, named “One of the World’s 50 best business school professors”
- Digiday – media in marketing, fashion, and finance categories – gotta love the TL;DR
- SmartBrief – top stories curated from more than 10k credible sources & summarized direct to your inbox
- Advertising Age – has been around just shy of a century, AdAge has legit street cred
- eConsultancy – market research, guides, and digital mktng news + a healthy dose of international trends
- Buffer – became a player quickly as their content game is strong
General Business and/or Life
- Simon Sinek – also a provocative endorsement, but I feel like he gets it (plus he reminds me of my good friend Joshua Kanter)
- Will Smith – yeah, I said it – his content is sincere, relevant, and funny AF
- Medium – hub for the world’s most insightful writers, thinkers, and storytellers
- Mashable – a lot of debate here as some suggest Mashable has lost its soul, I still dig ‘em
- The Hustle – get an email each morning with all the tech and business news you need to know for the day