How to Train Your Brain to Be Creative: Lessons for Marketers

How to Train Your Brain to Be Creative: Lessons for Marketers

No single marketing approach will work forever or for everybody. It can be hard for content creators to stay focused and motivated when they are producing the same content pieces over and over. Don’t believe me? After all, you have deadlines to meet, business goals to reach, and eager subscribers you can’t disappoint just because your creative muse doesn’t have a safe space in which to work her magic. He encourages aspiring innovators to approach creative endeavors by building a manageable process around producing them. “Yet, structuring your creativity can be a helpful tool if you find the right framework.” For example, if you are looking to strengthen your creative muscles but don’t have the resources or permission to experiment within your regular content responsibilities, Jay suggests building a body of creative work more gradually, using one of these methods: Side projects: Carve out a bit of your own free time to build a single idea; but make sure to work consistently as long as it takes to see it to completion. Connect the dots between your observation and its relevance for your business, which will help provide the necessary aha moment around your creative idea. Explain your idea generation. When you preface the explanation of how you generated your idea with the observation, distillation, and relation to your brand, hone in on why your observation matters – and how it has an opportunity to create value for your organization. Hear from inspiring creators like Jay Acunzo, Andrew & Pete, and Tina Fey in person at Content Marketing World Sept. 4-7 in Cleveland, Ohio.

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For many years, I worked alongside a talented content marketer who often insisted she just wasn’t “a creative person.” Though there was plenty of evidence to the contrary (I won’t embarrass her by sharing details), she refused to believe her brain was capable of generating big, innovative ideas or turning them into groundbreaking storytelling.

Rather than argue with her, I thought I’d prove her – and, by extension, any other marketer who thinks crafting imaginative, one-of-a-kind content is a task best left to “artistic types” – wrong once and for all.

To do this, I gathered compelling evidence, perspectives, and advice from some of the most imaginative, inspirational, and downright impressive minds in the world of creative content pursuits.

If you don’t create, you stagnate

Beyond the critical role it plays in tech innovation, personal self-expression, product development, and simply making our world a more interesting place, creativity may be the most important determining factor in whether a content marketing program is properly positioned to thrive or doomed to fail.

Imagine how difficult it would be to accomplish any of these long-term business goals without setting off a spark of ingenuity now and again:

  • Standing out from your competition. When cutting through the noise in a crowded space, take a lesson from notable marketing vloggers Andrew and Pete: Believing that “playing follow the leader will keep you always in a state of being one step behind,” the duo infused advice-filled videos with their signature quirky charm and forged an award-winning niche for themselves in the process.
  • Scaling your reach and influence. No single marketing approach will work forever or for everybody. If you want to bring new folks around to your way of thinking – and get them to share it with their friends – have a range of creative broad strokes to entice them.
  • Overcoming attention fatigue: Over time, even your most popular content pieces can get overshadowed by the shiny things hitting your subscribers’ news feeds and inboxes. Delivering something unexpected can shake loose the cobwebs and reignite the passion they felt when they first signed on to engage with your business.
  • Reenergizing your content team. It can be hard for content creators to stay focused and motivated when they are producing the same content pieces over and over. Giving them the time and space to explore new ideas can strengthen their sense of ownership over their work – and their job satisfaction.

You could be the next creative mastermind (yes, you!)

Despite what staunch status quo supporters might think, creativity can come from anywhere – and from anyone. Don’t believe me? Maybe the opinion of a creative genius (and minister of silly walks) will hold more weight:

“Creativity is not a talent – it’s a way of operating… (It’s) not an ability that you either have or do not have.” – John Cleese

Creativity in context

Following this theory, anybody (including my former colleague) can learn to be more creative if they so desire. Of course, it’s going to take some work; but it’s a lot easier if you know how to get yourself into the right frame(s) of mind first.

As Mr. Cleese explained in his well-known 1991 presentation on how to be creative (which informed some thoughts he expressed in his 2015 keynote address at Content Marketing World), people who excel in creative roles are often particularly adept at alternating between two critical states of being:

  • Open mode – Your mind is relaxed, expansive, contemplative, inclined to humor, and playful, which allows natural creativity to surface.
  • Closed mode – Your mind is still active, yet its function is more purposeful and focused. It’s where you organize your ideas and decide how to implement them in a meaningful way.

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Creativity in content

Of course, when you’re talking about creativity from a content marketer’s perspective, you don’t often have the luxury of cultivating the ideal mindset before getting something down on the page. After all, you have deadlines to meet, business goals to reach, and eager subscribers you can’t disappoint just because your creative muse doesn’t have a safe space in which to work her magic.

In fact, if you ask Unthinkable Media’s Jay Acunzo, the whole idea of expecting to be visited by a mythical spirit doling out creative inspiration is a bigger fallacy than the existence of unicorns (which, as we all know, live in abundance in a magical land called Silicon Valley).

The muse is an excuse: In his recent webinar on improving…

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