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Marketing on the edges – where interesting stuff happens

I have recently been enjoying the decadent luxury of frequent walks on the beach. Last week, while my daughter was with her dad, I took several days off to spend with my beau and we had ourselves a couple lovely rambles along the shore. This week, I’m easing back into my work groove but continuing to start my day with long, coastal strolls after I drop my daughter off at summer camp. (Her camp’s proximity to the beach gives me the perfect excuse.)

The wide-open spaces of sand, surf, and sky provide marvelous inspiration for random thoughts. I give my mind leave to wander, but it often comes back to the topic of marketing. (What can I say? I’m a geek like that.) One of the ideas that I’ve been playing with is the idea of marketing on the edges.

On the beach, all the interesting things happen on the edges. Treasure lies where the surf meets the sand. The push and pull of the tide brings the worlds of land and sea together and then draws them apart again. The rush of water reveals and conceals in turn, all the while tossing artifacts from the depths to lie in the sun, strangers in a strange land. Across the low tide flats the dance between sea and sand forms intricate patterns, giving form to the forces at work.

What does this have to do with marketing?

Too often, we get caught up with being “in the thick” of things. We surge like lemmings for the center, gathering around the same places, ideas, products, messages, and mentors. But, in the middle, things are dull. The landscape is flat and featureless. It’s crowded, and ideas echo from voice to voice as we consume and create the same thing over and over again.

Out on the edges things get interesting. People try new ideas, combine disparate concepts, and look at life through a different lens. You can see farther and into new places. Experiments fail and succeed. Alliances are forged. Partnerships are brokered. On the edges is where the great mash-ups happen. Peanut butter gets into chocolate and the world is changed forever.

But where are the edges and how do you get there?

The edge is different for each person and each business. Getting there is as easy as stepping outside your usual routine, taking a different route, talking to new people. Read blogs from a different industry. Go hear a speaker on a topic that has nothing to do with your profession. Take in a movie or art show or concert and think about it in the context of what you do – are there parallels you can draw? Don’t assume that the best practices are best for you. (They rarely are.) Don’t assume that you can replicate someone else’s success by copying their approach. (You usually can’t.) Don’t assume that you aren’t creative enough to do things differently. (You definitely are.)

In short, look at life with new eyes.

Marketing does not have to be boring. It does not have to be drudgery. It does not have to follow the rules.

Where are your edges? What can you do there today? 

 

 

 

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From my friends Srinivas Rao (@skooloflife) and Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer) comes a {grow} post: 5 Steps to Re-invent Your Social Media Business Networking (great minds apparently think alike) 😉

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9 Comments

  1. I love this idea of reading blogs from people in different industries – it’s so true that we almost fall into this group think trap when it comes to communicating our message with the world, and inspiration often comes in the least likely of places when we allow it!

    • Jamie Lee

      It’s so true, Sabrina. I find that many of my best ideas are adaptations from other, seemingly unconnected places. I bring the practices I use in trapeze class to my writing, or the revisions process I use in writing to my brand development projects. It’s amazing how much of our knowledge applies across multiple areas, if we just give it a try! :)

  2. In grad school there was a strong focus on interdisciplinary work and I think this resonates here. In many ways to be creative, critical and strategic in this industry, as well as at the nexus of what’s happening in the market place, you have to be involved outside of what’s happening on the inside. If that makes sense!

    We talk about integrated marketing, but this is integrated learning.

    Loved the photographs in this piece too :=)

    • Jamie Lee

      How about “integrated perspective?”

      I love the idea of integrated learning. I see more and more of that going on – in schools and in business. I like the holistic feeling of taking it all in and re-parsing it into new ideas and solutions.

      Thanks, re: the photos. I LOVE my Instagram and am so glad to see you and the woofs there now.
      :)

  3. Laura

    You hit it dead center. This is the conflict for me. I don’t want to be in the “thick of it.” I’ve been studying and analyzing the ways social media is having an affect on marketing. I’m often disappointed because it’s a big jumble of noise, with everybody trying to get to the middle and a tremendous amount of imitation going on. So while I’m learning to navigate and make sense of it, I realize a huge part of me doesn’t want to jump into the mess. This begs the question: How then, do I want to make a mark and what can I do that will promote my brand and set it apart without drowning? For me, I think that means I will blog a book. This allows me to develop my skills, will keep me focused, AND gives me a unique (I hope) platform.

  4. Jamie, there are a couple of things that resonate with me here; one, getting outside of your routine an allowing your mind to wander is essential to keeping creativity at its best. Imagine if you are never allowed to rest. How would your body respond?

    Two, looking at other industries for inspiration. Very good idea. That’s likely one of the reasons why I read marketing, PR, and other design blogs. Perspective.

    The one thing I have noticed is exactly what you are saying here; we all generally work the same way from a process perspective so it is at the extremes that you find out how things can be changed to make a better mousetrap.

    Very cool. Great critical thinking here!

    • Jamie Lee

      Thanks much, Ralph. :) You’re too kind.

      You are a living, breathing example of this cross-disciplinary approach. :) There is always a lot to learn from this type of study and observation. Individuals and organizations that only look inward are missing out on SO much good stuff – ideas, solutions, inspirations. I need to do more of this myself – getting out there and seeing more of the world. There’s a lot of it to see!

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