Ever struggle to craft compelling copy for an ad?
Or pull your hair out over what to write in an email?
Maybe you vacantly stare at your screen while trying to type up a blog post?
It’s like pulling teeth, right?
And hey, sometimes we all feel like we could use a marketing genie!
You know, a snap of the fingers or wave of the wand to magically make everything easier.
Hey, we can dream, right?
In my years as a marketer, I’ve heard tons of wishes cast toward the proverbial marketing genie.
Yet there’s one desire in particular I’ve heard way more often than any other…Now, to be fair, this sentiment is often expressed in different words, but the gist is essentially this:
“Man, I wish I was more creative.”
The bane of most marketers both old and new.
It’s not something we often think of as essential to business, but let’s face it…
Creativity is crucial to your survival as an entrepreneur
Think about it…
Creativity is at the heart of solving problems and gaining a competitive edge.
These are, as you know, how businesses survive and thrive.
And without creativity, a business will quickly wither into obscurity.
There’s a reason everyone groans when they hear the phrase “think outside of the box,” as it’s so oft-repeated.
But you might consider innovation, which is the basis for economic growth and development, nothing more than applied creativity.
Now here’s the rub…
Most of us don’t feel particularly “creative”Just as we watch a guitar virtuoso or dueling pianist at a concert and jealously think, “How the hell do they do that,” there’s always that sense of nagging frustration when the creative juices just won’t flow for our business.
Here’s the thing, though:
Creativity isn’t something you’re born with.
The concept of creativity has a pie-in-the-sky, mystical aura that’s totally overblown.
This is especially true in the realm of marketing, because, truth be told, most “creative” isn’t particularly creative.
More on that in a moment.
The bottom line is that…
Despite popular belief, creativity can be taught.
No genies required.
The thing nobody tells you about being “creative”Listen: there’s a strong chance that you’re already a creative person.
You likely already have the skills to tell stories, captivate an audience, and keep them coming back for more.
And no, I’m not telling you this to butter you up.
Creativity isn’t magic, nor is it something that suddenly comes screaming out of you one day.
Think about the world of advertising.
The majority of the most “brilliant” and “creative” ads of all time are rooted in six tried-and-tested ad templates.
Sure, the marketers behind these sorts of ads were certainly talented, but they weren’t necessarily geniuses.
Think about it.
Was Jimi Hendrix a creative genius?
What about Steve Jobs?
But both of these guys had to start at square one, just as we all do.
So whether you’re practicing guitar scales until your fingers bleed, designing the next digital revolution, or struggling to write a blog post…
You’re already involved in the creative process
You’re going from Point A to Point B to create something.
There’s the keyword:
Creativity is all about making things.
For us marketers, that means producing ads, emails, blog posts, videos, the works.
We all have the ability to create these things again and again.
And therefore we all have the potential to be “creative.”
Your “creative” story already existsYou already know that online marketers live and die by their ability to create attractive content…
Stuff that makes people gather around us and want to listen.
Yet nobody can be attracted to you if you aren’t putting yourself out there.
Thankfully, you already have a story to tell to establish that magnetic sense of attraction.
You just might not realize it.
But think about this…
- You’ve struggled.
- You’ve overcome adversity.
- You’ve faced conflict.
Heck, perhaps you’ve experienced all three in your quest toward becoming an online marketer!
That’s exactly what took me from a miserable construction job to where I am today.
The point is this:
It’s shocking how much life experience any given person has, and how much those experiences can draw people in.
However, this still doesn’t address the elephant in the room in regard to creativity…
So let’s dive in.
The process to smash your creative blocks once and for allMake no mistake: the phenomenon of writer’s block is real.
I know it all too well.
We all have our stories and ideas, but it’s not enough to simply write, is it?
- You have to be entertaining.
- You have to play the role of a storyteller.
- And you have to encourage people to DO something.
When push comes to shove, creativity is really all about the ability to create consistently.
And once you understand the formula behind creating content, you can replicate it time and time again to compel your audience to perk their ears up and take action.
This works for anything you’re creating on behalf of your business.
Whether it be your blog posts, an email sequence, or prep for a Facebook Live, the creative formula you’re about to learn can be applied without fail.
So, what are the three steps to becoming a well-oiled “creative” marketing machine?
Food for thought:
Reading is the most common pastime among the wealthy.
There’s a reason why the average CEO reads dozens of books per year and likewise dedicate hours of their day to learning something new.
Bill Gates reads somewhere along the lines of 50 books annually and attributes much of his own success to his mass consumption of literature.
Now, this may seem a bit backwards if you’ve been conditioned as a “learn by doing” type of person.
“How can I find time to read? Shouldn’t I be, you know, actually doing something to grow my business?”
Trust me, I understand.
A few years back I went through a phase where I realized that I was reading absolutely nothing.
Zip. Zilch. Nada.
At the same time, I was going through a total creative slump.
My brain was like mush whenever I went to write.
It was miserable.
So I decided that enough was enough and made the commitment to read at least one book per month.
I promised myself I wouldn’t get left behind.
Fast forward a few months later and surprise, surprise:
Once I started reading again, I felt completely reinvigorated with new ideas and went on a writing spree that resulted in some great blog posts (and a bit of carpal tunnel, too).
Setting actionable reading goals for yourself is the first step to getting those creative juices flowing.
Whether it’s reading thirty minutes a day or a book every other week, you absolutely must feed your brain.
A quick caveat on content consumptionIf you want to create quality content, you need to consume quality content.
The fact that you’re still reading this very post is a testament to your taste (due to the subject matter, of course, not necessarily my treatment of it).
But yeah, if you fill your head with trash, that’s all you’re going to regurgitate.
And obviously there’s a happy medium between watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians (or whatever the latest reality show is…I’m frankly out of the pop-culture loop) and trying to read through Don Quixote.
Next time you sit down to read a book or even a blog post, ask yourself:
How is this going to help me grow?
This sort of mindfulness will keep you on track with your business goals and ensure you’re not wasting time with crappy content.
Also, keeping an inventory of what you’re reading will likewise help you become a better consumer.
Whether it’s in Google Docs, a physical journal, or stuck on a sticky note, writing down a “to-do” list of what you’re going to read further holds you accountable for doing your homework.
If you’re stuck wondering what you should read, there is no right answer.
However, you should most definitely mix it up to keep yourself engaged and avoid reading the same types of content ad nauseum.
For example, consider reading…
- A combination of books and blogs: taking the time to step away from the screen is a good way to avoid burnout
- Classics in our space: works such as How to Win Friends and Influence People, Think and Grow Rich, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People aren’t only great reads, but will also help you tap into the minds of your prospects who are familiar with the same literature
- Fiction: don’t neglect the importance of reading for enjoyment, especially since you can weave your love for literature into your marketing efforts (kind of like this)
Feeling overwhelmed yet?
Just read more.
That’s the first step.
No more, no less.
Over time, you can organize your favorite chunks of wisdom and inspiration into your own personal swipe file that you can reference in the future.
But for now, just worry about reading more.
Seriously: your brain will thank you.
Now, onto step two!
Flashback to high school.
Ever have a teacher who droned on and on (ala Ben Stein) and somehow expected you to soak up their lectures like a sponge?
Yeah. We all did.
And yeah, we can’t remember a single thing from that class, can we?
Reflecting on what you’ve consumed is absolutely essential to retaining and truly understanding it.
Unfortunately, many people fail to do this and end up with a bunch of scrambled thoughts instead of actual insight when it comes time to explain what they’ve read.
Yes, you can read for eight hours a day, every single day, and still fail to learn anything.
If you don’t use and integrate the knowledge you’re consuming, it’s going to go in one ear and out the other.
Passively looking at brilliant ads and invaluable information means very little if you can’t actively replicate them yourself.
So what’s the easiest and most straightforward way to reflect and eventually implement what you’ve learned?
Take notes!That’s right, physical notes.
Pen and paper.
Muscle memory is crucial to retaining information.
Meanwhile, people tend to take better notes when they’re laser-focused on their reading material rather than on a screen.
It’s all about putting a space between where you’re consuming (often the Internet) and where you reflect (on your own, perhaps in your office).
You might be cynical about the idea of journaling, but I really can’t stress it enough.
You don’t need a Moleskine Notebook or anything fancy.
A simple notebook and pencil will do the trick.
How to effectively take notesIf you struggle with note-taking, don’t feel embarrassed.
Unless you’re a consistent conference-goer, you might not have truly sat down and taken notes since your college or high-school days.
One of the most effective note-taking strategies I recommend is to write at least one sentence about what you’ve read for the day.
Once you get that one sentence on paper, you’ll want to write more and you also won’t want to break the habit.
This strategy is pulled from Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” technique which advises writers to craft three pages of longhand, “stream of consciousness” writing every day, immediately after waking up.
Now, you don’t need to write three pages per day for the sake of note-taking, but one page per day seems pretty reasonable, doesn’t it?
That’s only 250 words, give or take.
These words add up over time, too.
If you document your daily reading into one page for a week, you’ll have well over 1,000 words of reflection on paper.
Not bad, right?
Here’s the takeaway: you’re not going to automatically absorb everything you read without putting it on paper and stewing on it.
Budget some of your reading time for the reflection process: you might be shocked at just how much more you remember as a result.
And by the way, another great way to reflect on your knowledge is by speaking and sharing your knowledge with like-minded people.
Questions. Comments. Discussions.
You know, like the conversations we have here at Elite Marketing Pro.
There’s a classic quote from Stephen King on what it means to write well:
“There are only two things you absolutely must do: read and write.”
Reading and reflecting are easy.
It’s the writing piece that trips people up.
But never forget that…
You don’t get paid for reading and reflecting!When it comes time write, you’re essentially putting down words in exchange for dollars and cents.
All of that reading and reflecting will eventually snowball into what it is that you’re going to write.
Blog posts. Tweets. Emails.
You know the drill.
When push comes to shove, you’re going to have to sit down and write (or press the record button).
There are no two ways about it.
If you budget yourself adequate time and follow the previous two steps, ideas will flow sooner rather than later.
That’s not to say you’re going to have those days when you’re uninspired and not feeling it.
Producing content is often akin to sweating it out at the gym.
It might be the last thing you feel like doing at the beginning or end of the day, but when you actually drag yourself up and go through the motions, you feel infinitely better.
It’s not easy.
If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, right?
So whether you’re an early bird or night owl, as long as you stick to some sort of schedule, you’re golden.
And yeah, sometimes deadlines represent your best motivator if you’re a serial procrastinator (like myself).
Just like with your reading and reflecting, set a goal and meet your quota day after day.
Once it becomes a routine, producing fresh content is like an addiction.
You know, the good kind.
A quick note on “imposter syndrome”
Before you rush off to read or craft your next masterpiece, it’s important to understand that you may never feel like you’re “ready” to create.
Maybe you feel like a total imposter, like you’re not a “real” writer.
Perhaps you’re afraid that you don’t have fresh ideas.
After all, you don’t want to repeat what’s already been said a million times before and look like a total follower, do you?
Obviously plagiarism is a major no-no for marketers, but never be afraid to give credit where credit is due.
Discussing your sources and inspiration won’t hurt your credibility: in fact, doing so often bolsters it.
Giving due credit shows that you’re well-read and aren’t just pulling random ideas out of thin air.
And on a related note…
You absolutely cannot wait for the ideal time to start creating!
Newsflash: it doesn’t exist.
When I started off writing blog posts, I often felt like I was flying blind.
Yet I quickly realized that the most important part of creating was, you know, actually creating.
The only way to unleash your creativity is to embrace the process.
Learn by doing.
Trial by fire.
Don’t worry about being seen as a beginner or phony.
Yes, creativity is that simple.
Ready to unleash your creative side on the marketing world?
Okay, that was a bit of a trick question.
Chances are YOU ARE ready, you might just not know it yet.
It’s normal to be nervous, but don’t let “analysis paralysis” freak you out.
You already have more knowledge than you think.
And by taking what you’ve already learned and presenting it to a new audience that’s ready to learn from you, you position yourself as an industry expert instead of a newbie.
People out there are hungry for what you have to say!
So where exactly are you going to find your ravenous audience?
Well, we have something to help.
In fact, you can check out a step-by-step tutorial that reveals our exact advertising process in a 100% FREE online workshop, hosted by none other than Tim Erway, our co-founder and CEO here at Elite Marketing Pro, who’s responsible for generating over 30 million dollars in revenue online (and counting).
Simply pick a time and register right here.
You’ll discover how you can put together a profitable ad campaign in just 10 minutes a day with as little as $10 in initial ad spend.
We’ve used the exact formula to turn a $10 test campaign into $141,246.30 in sales.
And Tim will show exactly how we did it.
So if you haven’t registered yet, what are you waiting for?
Until next time,
Director of Content
Elite Marketing Pro
Latest posts by Andrew T Draughon (see all)
- How to Make Your Ultra-Premium, Top-Shelf Offer Feel Like an Absolute Steal - September 13, 2017
- The #1 Strategy to Market Your Small Business on a Shoestring Budget - September 6, 2017
- The Foolproof 3-Step Formula to Make Your Marketing Stand Out from the Competition - August 30, 2017