Suddenly Marketing

Brand Messaging | Content Strategy | Writing

Want better marketing? Go on vacation.

Have you heard the good news? A recent study shows that working in a crowded coffee shop fires up your creativity. Even better, my own personal research shows that going on vacation helps you fire up your marketing.

 

My clients are hard-working people. They are, like me, often on the clock at odd hours. It’s not something I’m proud of (or, even like to admit), but I’ve been known to take conference calls at 10PM and frequently use Saturday as the sixth day of the workweek. I am, however, making an effort to reclaim some of my R&R time. Based on recent experiences, I’ve decided it’s the smart thing to do. Getting out of town amps up my clarity and creativity. I’m betting it can do the same for you, so here – in an effort to both inspire you and also give you an easy way to justify taking a break – are my top six reasons why going vacation improves your marketing:

 

You can get some rest.

Sleeping in. Hammock-y naps. Oceanside siestas. These are some of my favorite vacation perks. Last year, my beau and I spent a few lovely days in old Quebec City. It was February and very cold. We had a gorgeous room at the Frontenac, overlooking the icebound river. After bone chilling walks through the cobbled streets, we spent a couple of afternoons curled up on the kingsize bed, gazing out the window at the gray scene beyond until we drifted effortlessly to sleep. We had nothing to do, nowhere to be, no one waiting on us for anything. It was the simplest of pleasures and the most decadent. Perhaps even more than a full night’s sleep, a mid-afternoon nap does something to restore the soul. We rarely treat ourselves to such a gift when we are at home, but on vacation, there are all kinds of opportunities for guilt-free snoozing. A rested mind and body leads to clarity of thought, higher levels of creativity, and better humor – all beneficial to your marketing.

 

A change will do you good. (So says Sheryl Crow.)

It’s so easy to get stuck in our day-to-day ruts, I mean routines. Whether your daily grind includes the same commute or the same pattern of chasing the kids into their clothes so you can get them off to school or camp or wherever, familiarity can be a fruitful breeding ground for ennui, lethargy, and complacency. Experiencing someplace new can jolt you out of the same old-same old. Even if you’re only one town away from home, that can be enough to change your perspective and spark new ideas … ideas that might be about how to kick some ass with your marketing.

 

You can unplug.

I know it’s hard. You can carry your whole digital world around on your handy-dandy smartphone/iPad/laptop. Don’t. I beg of you – don’t. A vacation is the perfect time to disengage from email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and whatever other electronic tethers you might have. My beau and I just got back from a few days in Acadia National Park with my daughter. Though I admit to checking my email a few times, I did (in my opinion, my beau might think differently) an admirable job of staying unplugged. The best part of extracting ourselves from all the buzz and banter of our digital world is how quiet it gets. It gets so quiet that – hark! – you can almost hear yourself think. Yes … I think … wait – it’s coming in loud and clear now – the answer to that question that’s been hounding me for weeks. The solution has been simmering on the back burner of my brain, and now that it’s quiet, the answer just came up and whispered itself in my ear. Being able to tune into your own thoughts is a very good thing for your marketing.

 

You’ll practice talking to other human beings.

I know – you talk to human beings all day – on the phone, on Twitter, via your blog. All of that is nice, but a) if you’re following the previous bit of advice you won’t be plugged into all that chatter and b) the art of the face-to-face conversation is one I’d hate to see us lose. As a solopreneur who works from her home office, I find that most of my interactions take place over the phone or online. Going on vacation gives me the chance to engage with people IRL. (That’s “in real life” for those of you who have not yet succumbed to the textaholics world of acronyms.) Whether the conversations are small talk with strangers or long, heart-to-hearts with your traveling companions, each opportunity to communicate on this level is a good thing for your marketing. It reminds us how to connect with people (marketing), how to listen to them (marketing), and how to tell our stories (marketing).

 

You’ll probably get OUTSIDE. 

Though I love my cozy office and the bustling coffee shop downtown, there is something about immersing myself in the great outdoors that rejuvenates me like nothing else. More than rest or pampering or cultural indulgences, getting outside brings me back to center. I’m not talking about a simple walk around the block. I’m talking about really getting into the thick of the natural world – a three-hour walk along the beach, a six hour hike up (and down!) a mountain, a day-long meander through the forest or along a river. Mother Nature has all kinds of ways to heal and strengthen both body and mind. From good, old fresh air to the adrenaline rush of a challenging rock climb or sailing expedition to the insightful reflections brought on by the quiet and vastness of the world beyond our urban territory. Some of the biggest treasures I take away from my time in the great outdoors are the metaphors that I discover – metaphors for life, love, and – you guessed it – marketing.

 

You’ll remember what turns you on.

Last, but certainly not least, vacations help us reconnect with the things that really turn us on. When we’re on holiday, we make choices based on what we want to do, not what we need to do or think we should do. You suddenly remember all the things that you love to do and why you love to do them. You start to get excited and enthusiastic again – and that is one of your secret marketing weapons.

 

So, those are my favorite ways to justify more vacation time. What are yours? 

If you’re curious about some of the marketing metaphors inspired by my past vacations and day-to-day immersion in Mother Nature’s playground, you may want to check out my series, Mama Nature’s Marketing Tips. Go ahead – take a walk on the wild side. You never know what might inspire you.

Image Credit: Ahmed Amir

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14 Comments

  1. Jamie, so glad you enjoyed your vacation. You know, I did it the wrong way last time. I spent part of my past vacation blogging but just in the early morning (excuses, excuses).

    Anyway, you are so right. It pays to disconnect and reflect and that’s really what a vacation is there for anyway, huh? To enjoy life and maybe not take it all so seriously.

    Vacation does help us rekindle those things we love to do. I did a bit of writing on my last holiday and it is amazing what comes when you are relaxed and don’t have a ton of chatter in the back of your mind.

    Thanks for the inspiration. We have a long weekend coming – Canada Day – upon which i will certainly apply some of your suggestions.

    BTW, are you Canadian? Just the reference to QC City go me thinking. :-)

    • Jamie Lee

      Hello, Ralph!
      “… not take it all so seriously.”

      I think that’s a big part of the magic alchemy that makes a vacation really worthwhile. One of my favorite quotes is from the journalist Brandan Gill, “Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.” That always makes me feel better.

      I hope you enjoy your long weekend. I’m not Canadian (though I sometimes think I ought to have been), so I won’t have that pleasure. My beau and I will, however, return to QC soon. He’s French Canadian and LOVES that old city. It really is beautiful and – in the winter months – the perfect place to slow down. We even went dog sledding while we were there. I thought it was going to be like a carriage ride in the park. Imagine my surprise when they handed me the lead “reins” and said, “Ok – go!” What?!?!? 😉

  2. I SO so so agree. I’m an absolute workaholic on account of a distinctly manic side to myself so I rarely stop. But I discovered last year that getting off the internet for three weeks whilst in France gave me room to breathe and it did me a world of good. I came back fresher and more focused that I’ve been for a long time and the roll on effect was a happier, more balanced Jon who was able to do lots of good work. Until Mr Hyde reared his head again sometime in, oh, Februrary I think.

    Guess what I am doing this year !!!

    • Jamie Lee

      Sounds to me like you ought to book regular getaways, Jon! I’ve always been terrible at actually following through on a vacation. My new approach is to book stuff WAY in advance. Once it’s scheduled (and paid for!), I always find a way to make it happen, plus it gives me something to work towards. If I know I’m leaving in 48 hrs, I can get seriously productive!
      😉

      Hope your next trip is fabulous. France sounds wonderful!

  3. Laura

    Alas! The elusive vacation, I knew it well, but not lately. I do try hard to take off a day or so occasionally, but somehow, if not away from home, I’m inclined to succumb to whatever needs doing. Although budget doesn’t allow for the luxury of extended vacation right now because I want to invest in other things that will actually increase that possibility (does that make sense or am I insane?)…I do opt to create moments of solitude. And on that note, I share with you this link:

    http://theamericanscholar.org/solitude-and-leadership/

    or if you’re in a hurry, the jist of it in this NPR interview conducted by Robin Young:

    http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2011/06/27/leadership-west-point/player

    • Jamie Lee

      Hello, Laura!

      First of all – no, you’re not insane. :)
      I went for a few years without any extended vacations. It was a matter of necessity and part of ramping up my new business. What I tried to be careful of was not staying in that non-vacation mindset once things opened up a little. It would have been very easy to just keep plowing ahead without any breaks (that’s the New England Yankee in me), but – luckily! – my darling beau would have none of that.

      Second – thanks for the links. I haven’t time to listen in full now, but I have bookmarked for later. I love the idea of solitude being integral to leadership. I think the lack of solitude in our busy, digital lives is a huge detriment in so many ways.

      TKS for the comment and the extra reading material!

    • Laura

      FYI for other responders to this post – the link I provided is an interview of William Deresiewicz talking about his essay “Solitude and Leadership” that appeared in AMERICAN SCHOLAR and went viral in the corporate business world. Deresiewicz was a professor and part of the Admissions Committe at Yale and after writing this essay, invited to give an address to the Plebes at West Point. By googling, you can pull up his full essay if you want to read, or just listen to the short interview!

  4. I’m happy you got out to enjoy the sun and air, Jamie. I don’t go on vacation often, either. I tend to excuse myself with the fact that I do unplug regularly–I’m offline after 6, and all weekend, except when I steal the laptop for online shopping binges or YouTube. But that doesn’t quite keep me from thinking and worrying during the time between the next sign-in. A good long break is a very good reason to shut and lock the door on that overflowing closet, so to speak, so we can make our creative brain presentable again.

    • Jamie Lee

      Hello, Shakirah! :)

      I do my best to give myself little breaks throughout my day and week, but – like you said – there’s nothing like an extended break to really recharge your batteries. I find that it usually take me at LEAST 24 hrs to get into vacation mode. I have a lot of unwinding, disengaging, and detoxing to do. Sometimes, after a particularly busy bout, it feels like I need the whole vacation just to “come down” enough to relax!

      Here’s to presentable creative brains. I hope you get a vacation soon to get yours in good shape!

  5. Stuart

    Totally agree – we gotta let our subconscious come thru at some point. :)

    • Jamie Lee

      Yes! Groove with your subconscious. You never know what you’ll discover together!

      Thanks for visiting!

  6. Taking a vacation is great – I am a firm believer in it, because my vacation experiences have helped me to become a better blogger and a better marketer (it is during those vacation times, I get the most insight on things like marketing).

    But, it can also be bad (It has for me – I have had experiences in which vacation made it harder for me to blog, to start blogging again because of plain laziness or maybe tiredness).

    Balance is the key – take vacation and work. Too much time on either can cause trouble.

    Just like the crowded coffee shop 😉 I never imagined that it could help us, but hey, it is the brain after all, right? It works in weird ways).

    • Jamie Lee

      I know exactly what you mean, Jeevan.
      It takes me a few days to get into the vacation mindset. For the first couple of days, I’m definitely still wrangling work questions in my head and operating in full-speed-ahead mode. Once I settle into a more relaxed pace, though, it can be very hard to snap back to reality. I’ve sometimes wondered what that means in terms of my “natural state.” Am I more naturally a workaholic or a lady of leisure?
      😉

      Either way – balance is definitely the key. And transitions – transitions are important … giving yourself time to settle in and find your groove (whether work or play).

      Thanks for coming by. Nice to “see” you!

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