When people think about what barriers a marketer may have to success, they usually think of technical challenges. They think of things like defining a target audience or anticipating consumer response. While these are all important, there is another more important attribute of the job that causes concern. Creativity and innovation are key tools in the marketing professional’s toolbox and ones that aren’t always as accessible as we’d like.
Marketing requires many types of creativity and innovation to be successful. Whether it is establishing a new company-wide signature look or developing supplemental products. Whether it’s through a blog post, an ad, or a radio commercial, marketers have to come up with new and interesting ways to get people interested. While creativity is part of what draws many people to the industry, running up against creative blocks is a very real problem.
There are several reasons marketers may feel blocked from their creativity. They may be having a hard time finding inspiration, or have gotten bored with their subject matter. There are some steps you can take to avoid or break through these barriers when they appear. By staying curious, prioritizing your health, and learning when to take a step back, you can start to break down your creative obstacles.
Stay Curious and Change Perspective
It can be hard to stay curious when you are working on long-term campaigns and materials. After all, you can only look at something so many ways, right? Start by asking questions about your product, as if you had never seen it before. How would a customer who was just presented with this item or organization see it? Consider what questions they would ask. What about someone who is outside of your typical demographic? Finding ways to mentally change your perspective can spark new creativity.
You can change how you approach a project can be done by asking questions and by finding analogies for your product. Find ways to describe how your product is supposed to make people feel and dig into where those emotions come from. By looking deeper into the need that you’re fulfilling, you can consider what experiences produce similar emotions and experiences for your target audience.
Something else that can help you see your campaign in a new light is asking someone who hasn’t seen it before to describe it to you. Getting a fresh pair of eyes on a project can make a huge difference when you’re running into a creative block. Reach out to colleagues and use your network to help you find the right way to convey your message.
Physical and Mental Health
If you are in pain, stressed, or losing sleep, your mental and physical health will both suffer. These can be both symptoms and causes of creative burnout or blocks. If you aren’t connecting with your subject or just can’t seem to find a new perspective, take a look at your health. Before you try to attack your problem again, try addressing any discomfort or fatigue.
Consider how you want to address your health in both the short term and the long term. If you have ongoing pain and discomfort, look into some natural resources to help you feel better. Consider how you can include physical activity in your daily work routine. Even a long walk after work or a few stretches at your desk can alleviate headaches, reduce fatigue, and keep your mind refreshed. Spending some time outdoors too does wonders for both your mind and body, so anytime you can take a break and get yourself outside will improve your overall health as well as your creative processes.
Finding resources for managing pain can help with physical discomfort, but it also benefits your mental health. Taking mental health breaks from work can rejuvenate your mind and get you ready to come at a problem from a new direction. This can come in the form of meditation, walking away from your desk, or taking a few minutes to listen to your favorite music.
Take a Step Back and Find a New Direction
Learning when to step back from a project can be difficult. You have a problem in front of you and you want to solve it. But at a certain point, everyone develops decision fatigue. This is the point at which you are no longer able to come up with new ideas and make creative decisions. If you feel like you’ve been going in circles for a while, it might be time to take a bigger step back than just a cup of coffee or a stretch break.
Consider what it was that first inspired you. Make a list of the things that you were excited about. Then walk away and take a look at other industries, people that you respect, or campaigns that you found interesting. By taking the chance to move away from your project and look at new subject matter or formats you can become reinvigorated and passionate again. But if you’re experiencing this type of burnout and dissatisfaction regularly, it might be time to take a broader look at your career.
If your projects are no longer holding your attention or exciting you, you may want to consider a new career direction. Finding a new focus for your career can be exciting, and discovering paths that excite and challenge you can spark a new level of creativity. Do some research into education in niches like digital strategy, or public relations. These can build off of your established strategic communication skills and take your career in an exciting new direction.
As an inherently creative industry, marketing comes with a lot of challenges. Sometimes you need to evaluate the organization of your company, and how it is affecting you. Other times you need to find a way to recharge your creativity to develop new ideas. By learning when to find a new perspective and how to care for yourself, you can break down creative roadblocks experienced by marketers.
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