Suddenly Marketing

Brand Messaging | Content Strategy | Writing

Tag: creativity (Page 1 of 2)

The Secret Planning and Brainstorming Weapon You Don’t Know You Need

I can be a real geek sometimes.

And, not just your typical, Tolkien-quoting LOTR geek, either. (Though, I am totally one of those.)

I get geeky about things like the perfect notebook, calendaring, and a really well done Excel spreadsheet.

I also get seriously geeky about mind mapping. Seriously.

 

Mind whatting? If you have no idea what mind mapping is, you can get a quick 101 from my post, Secret Marketing Weapon: The Brand Mind Map.

After that (or, if you already kind of know what a mind map is), I’d like to invite you to take a listen to a podcast on which fellow mind mapping addict Michael Tipper (he’s the one with the lovely accent) interviews me about how I discovered mind mapping and just how I use it in both my personal and professional lives:

The Mind Mapping Show: Episode 8 – Discover the Possibilities of What Mind Mapping Can Do for Your Personal and Professional Lives

I will warn you that the first seven or so minutes are a bit chatty, so you may want to skip those and get right to the meat of the conversation.

Michael and I recorded the interview waaaaaay back in January and he broadcast it over the summer, but somehow I never got around to sharing it. (Couldn’t be because of my unbridled gushing and a few too many mentions of cats, could it? Maybe.)

ANYway … I thought this would be a great time to share the podcast. The end of the year is creeping up on us (or, more accurately, bearing down on us), so it’s the perfect opportunity to take a step back and do some mind mapping to look at the year behind and the year ahead. Maybe mind map that new project you’ve been contemplating, or perhaps you could use it to rough out a 2014 editorial calendar. Anything is possible. You never know where a mind map will take you.

I hope you’ll give a listen and indulge my attempt to get everyone mind mapping.

Oh! And if you have ANY questions, don’t hesitate to drop me a comment or a private email. I am always happy to talk about mind mapping. Always.

 

Write drunk; edit sober. How to blog like you mean it

Listen to this post:

 

Blogging can be scary. Some days, it feels like you’ve been pushed on stage and asked to do stand-up. The guy who was on before you totally killed it. The crowd was laughing in the aisles and people were repeating his catch phrase. Now you’re up there, peering through the glare of the floor lights, trying to catch a glimpse of the audience, sweating under the deep and awkward silence of a crowd waiting to see what you’re going to do.

Yeah. Sometimes, blogging is like that.

So, you ask yourself, how do people get brave enough to put themselves and their brands out there in authentic, vulnerable, stick-their-necks-out ways? How do they find the nerve to say the thing that needs to be said? What gives them the self-assurance they need to blog in a way that makes them stand out from the crowd, capture attention, and make people give a damn?

 

The answer: courage.

Courage isn’t a lack of fear. It is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. True courage does not come easily. You have to dig down deep and find the strength to face the dragons that stand in your way. You have to take a breath, square your shoulders, and push past the fear.

But, we all know there’s another way – a shortcut. It’s called liquid courage. You know what I’m talking about – the inhibition-lowering, boldness-bolstering, let-me-at-‘em kind of courage. The sure-I’ll-karaoke kind of courage. The lemme-tell-you-what-I-think kind of courage.

If you haven’t gotten to the point in your blogging evolution where you can tap into true courage, if you’re still teetering on the edge of writing posts that make you cringe a little when you click the “publish” button, you might want to try writing like you’re a little tipsy.

 

Write drunk; edit sober.

Most often attributed to Hemingway, this little gem of writing advice is perfect for bloggers. Like good fiction, a good blog needs to reach out and grab the reader. It needs to say something worth saying. It needs to take some kind of stand, but too often, especially on business blogs, we settle for the ho-hum and so-so. We play it safe.

This is called “going through the motions,” and it’s not going to help you build an audience, drive leads, or get known as a “thought leader.” It is going to bore people.

Whether you’re a solopreneur blogging as yourself or part of a corporate team trying to get out from under the red tape of management reviews and legal approvals, it can be hard to push beyond the easy, run-of-the-mill content so you can try something new or even controversial. I get it. But, if you don’t start taking steps in that direction, if you don’t start giving people something worth reading, why even bother blogging

Now, I’m not saying we should all go out and get hammered; but what if we applied the attributes of intoxication to our blogger’s mindset?

 

Lowered inhibitions

You’ve seen it a hundred times in the movies and probably in real life, too. The shy guy finally asks the pretty girl out. The shy girl finally gets up and sings her heart out to a bar full of dumbstruck friends. The downtrodden desk jockey finally stands up and tells his boss what he really thinks.

Turning down the volume of your internal censor can be a good thing for your blogging. If your primary worries are about being politically correct and pleasing everyone, you’ll end up watering everything down and diluting your message until it’s not worth hearing. Instead, loosen up a little. Try to be less self-conscious. Roll with your “crazy” ideas.

 

Brilliant random associations and wild, unruly bursts of creative insight

Speaking of crazy ideas, get some more of those.

Whether your brainstorming takes place in the conference room with a team of editors and writers, or in your head with just you and your inner critic, make it a free-for-all. Make it a no-bad-ideas zone. Encourage wacky suggestions and cultivate an environment of curiosity and creativity.

Sometimes it takes a little inebriation to see more clearly. How many winning ideas have been hatched during happy hour? We get a different perspective. Our internal filters shut down and the ideas can suddenly flow freely – colliding into each other and creating new, hybrid ideas. Happy hour can be very fertile ground for innovation.

 

Swagger

“Lemme at ‘im!”

Eyes slightly glazed, but with a fire burning in them, you’re ready to take on Goliath … bare fisted … with one hand tied behind your back. You know you can handle him. No problem. No problem at all.

Blogging requires a little chutzpah. You have to believe that you’ve got what it takes. You have to believe you’ve got something worth saying. If anyone says, “Who do you think you are?”, you have to be ready to tell him exactly who you are.

 

Honesty

A cocktail, mixed correctly, is as good as the best high-test truth serum.

When you’ve had a few, pretenses drop, charades dissolve, and facades crumble. Your authentic self, who has been waiting patiently behind the lines of sobriety and propriety, rolls her head and cracks her knuckles like a boxer preparing to enter the ring. It’s finally game time. Finally her turn to show her stuff.

“You know what I’ve always wanted to tell you?” … and then it all starts to come out – all the really juicy bits, all the stuff that keeps the listener hanging on every word. You don’t need a fancy vocabulary, you just need to tell it like it is – straight up, no filter.

 

Affection

“I love you guys.”

What is it about spirits that makes it so easy for us to express our affections? Defenses come down and the whole world seems like one big hug fest. How did we not see the awesomeoness of these people before?

Feel the love. Go with it. You’re trying to connect with these people on a very real level. Why hold back? If you feel moved to do it, tell them you love them. They are the reason you’re here. They are the reason you do what you do. Go ahead – lay one on ‘em. They’ll love it.

 

The morning after

Hemingway’s approach is only effective if you work both sides of the equation. I think we’ve covered the “write drunk” part, but what about editing sober?

The key is breathing room. Premature publishing is akin to drunk dialing (or texting). The results can be disastrous and embarrassing. Brainstorm and write to your intoxicated heart’s content, but don’t hit “publish” until you’ve come down off your creativity’s party train and are able to look at things with a sober and impartial eye.

Believe me, you don’t want to wake up with a tattoo you don’t remember getting.

 

From liquid courage to the real thing

Eventually, you’ll find that you don’t need a shot of faux fearlessness to blog like you really mean it. Over time, practicing blogging like you’re tipsy (even though you aren’t … really), will give you all the true courage you need to get out there and speak your mind in a unique and engaging way. You’ll feel at ease, be open to new and creative ideas, find your groove, embrace your truth, and surrender to your affections.

And that’s when the magic will happen. You won’t worry about feeling trapped up on a stage you didn’t want to be on in the first place. You will have found your voice, your audience, and your stride. You’ll be working that spotlight like a pro and having a great time doing it.

 

 

What do you think?

Have you ever written something while under the influence? How’d it turn out? Did you publish it? Did you have to censor much?  If you work with a team, have you ever had a Friday afternoon happy hour brainstorming session? Did anything interesting come out of that? What holds you back from blogging like you mean it?

 

 

Special thanks to David Meerman Scott (@dmscott) and Gareth (@dartacus) for inspiring this post. Scott wrote a post about why you should avoid deleting your content and Gareth asked if that also applied to “the content created at 2am when you were drunk & shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near the internet?” Scott conceded that maybe that could go, but the conversation got me thinking about how the stuff you write at 2AM when you’re drunk just might be some of the best stuff. So, there you go. Food for thought.

 

Image credit: WordsIGiveBy on etsy

Content May Be King, But There’s an Uprising Afoot

Do you ever want to run out into the middle of the street and scream, “SHUT UP!!!!!!” at the top of your lungs?

No. Maybe that’s just me.

 

Content is king! Long live the king!

I’ve been living in this marketing realm for the better part of a couple decades now. In the course of those years, I have – thanks in part to slight OCD tendencies – consumed more than my share of content on the topics of marketing, branding, and writing: dozens of traditional books, hundreds of ebooks, thousands of blog posts plus webinars, podcasts, special reports, manifestos, videos, interviews, exclusive research, online trainings, Facebook conversations, and only the gods know how many tweets.

Sound familiar?

 

Even the king can be deposed.

Around every corner of the Internet is another sales guru, social media expert, or marketing messiah. Each one has The Cure for what ails you. All you need is their 12-step plan, 6-week course, or 3-part jam session. Once you sign up to “learn more,” the content from these businesses charges your inbox like an army of royal minions. It infiltrates your social media feeds and takes your blog reader prisoner. You are surrounded, deafened, and hypnotized.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of great information out there, and consuming quality content is a great way to get educated. However, if you’re not careful, you can quickly find yourself suffering from an extreme case of information overload. For your own sanity, survival, and productivity, you need to knock the king down a notch or two – stop constantly consuming and start trusting yourself to create.

At some point, you have to say, “Enough!”

You have to tell everyone to just shut the hell up.

You need to give yourself TIME TO THINK.

 

Beware the siren song of somebody else’s stuff.

It’s human nature to assume that someone else knows better than you do. Most of us spend a great deal of our lives short-changing our own instincts and skills. We constantly look to Other People for the answers. We happily swallow huge amounts of content and all kinds of craziness because it’s easier than working things out for ourselves.

I don’t say this to offend. I say it because it’s true. I’ve been there and done that.

When I first entered the land of marketing, I was all a-gog with wonder. I kowtowed at all the appropriate guru shrines and drank the Kool-Aid willingly. Now, however, it’s a different story. I’ve been around the block a few times. I can sense BS a mile off, and have no problem terminating access to my inbox. In fact, I’ve recently been gleefully unsubscribing from the blogs and newsletters of many people and companies.

I’m not the only one. It feels like there’s a revolution in progress.

“Purging” has become a common refrain among friends and colleagues. People are hitting a saturation point. They are tired of feeling like they are being shouted at and seduced all the time. They are fantasizing about isolation chambers, quiet, and uninterrupted time with their own thoughts. They are becoming super selective about who they give their time to.

It may seem easier to get the answers from someone else, but when we go overboard and start listening to EVERYbody else, we’re setting ourselves up for trouble.

 

Discover the power of silence.

Most of us already know enough. We have the information we need to get started, but we keep on looking for more. If you’re honest with yourself, I bet you’d admit that a lot of your “research” is really just a highly refined and easy-to-justify form of procrastination. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone does it.

BUT … just because everyone else is doing it, too, doesn’t mean you should continue to do it.

 

Give yourself some time. Give yourself some space. Give yourself the gift of blessed silence.

Turn off the noise. Lower the volume on all those outside voices so you can hear your own voice.

Stop for a minute. Breathe. Shrug off everything you’ve ever heard or read. (Don’t worry. The good bits will stay with you.)

Get comfortable with the quiet. Be ready for your brain to kick into creation mode instead of always being in processing mode.

 

You know more than you think you do.

Give yourself some credit. When it comes to marketing your business, you are the expert. Professional marketers, writers, and the rest – we’re just here to help you remember what you already know. Despite what some people will tell you, marketing is not rocket science. It boils down to some basic principles of human behavior, communication skills, and follow-through.

Sure, there will always be shiny new technologies, fancy new platforms, and complicated-sounding strategies; but those aren’t what make your marketing sing. You are your own secret marketing weapon. Trust your instincts. Don’t fall for the myth of best practices.

Read up on what other people are saying and doing, but spend as much time creating as consuming.

Consider the opinions and advice of others, but don’t let them override your thoughts and ideas.

Learn from other people’s experiences, but don’t assume that your journey will mirror theirs.

 

A good king serves more than he rules.

The bottom line is this: Don’t be a slave to someone else’s content.

Content may be king, but a good king serves more than he rules. If you find yourself consuming content out of habit or because everyone else is doing it or because you have an irrational fear that if you stop you’ll miss that silver bullet solution that you’ve been looking for, STOP. Don’t be driven by your need to consume. Pay attention to which content serves you. Which content inspires you? Which content delivers the details you need to move forward with your own creation? Which content connects you to the communities that support you?

Follow, friend, RSS, and subscribe to your heart’s content, but as soon as someone’s content stops serving you, bid them adieu and move on without a backward glance. You will free up the time, energy, and brain space you need to work on your own plans and creations. Most importantly, you will make it easier to hear your own ideas.

They are really good, you know. You should listen to yourself more often.

 

If you’d like to listen to this blog post, you can!

Image Credit: AvidlyAbide

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén