Marketing Inspiration: 10 Ways Experts Fight February Funk
You’re in marketing. It’s February, well past Groundhog Day, and you’re starting to get that Bill-Murray-repeatedly-stepping-in-the-same-darn-puddle feeling. And if you’re wondering where all January’s optimistic energy went, you’re not alone, according to the American Psychological Association. You need marketing inspiration right about now—from master marketers who’ve been there.
So to help you find your new jam, or get your groove back, we spoke to expert marketers about how they find inspiration and motivation when they really need it. Ready to get inspired? Crank up “Eye of the Tiger” or “Fight Song” to 11 and read on.
1. Invest in the Learning Process
For Chris Penn, co-founder and chief data scientist at Trust Insights, motivation is linked to ongoing learning and building up your knowledge and skill base.
“If you want inspiration, you need to start making order out of chaos,” he said. “There are thousands of resources, but you should probably pick the top five or ten and start digging in. Once you hear about a specific topic that interests you, dig into that one topic.”
For example, you may be inspired to learn more about active learning neural networks, regression algorithms, or Google Analytics goal conversions. Chris said that once you commit to a topic, you can find “a rabbit hole of investigation” to motivate your quest for knowledge.
2. Read the Best Business Books
For some of our experts, business books remain a go-to source for wisdom and inspiration. Instead of the hottest new titles, they recommend the timeless tomes that continue to be revered for changing the way we think.
While the book was released in 1999, Shep believes it remains equally relevant today. “It’s powerful in understanding how you can take a commodity and de-commoditize it and turn it into an experience that people will pay greatly for,” he said.
Ross Quintana, CEO of Social Magnets, suggested another oldie but goodie published in 1981. “One of my all-time favorite books is ‘Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind’ by Jack Trout and Al Ries,” Ross said, adding that, “Most anything Seth Godin puts out is exceptional. Start with ‘Purple Cow.’”
3. Expand Your Reading List Beyond Business
Some of our experts looked beyond business and marketing books. Mellissah Smith, founder of Robotic Marketer, said, “With many books on marketing, as soon as they are written, they become ‘old news’ or out-of-date.”
Mellissah recommends “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself” by Michael A. Singer. While it’s not a marketing book, Mellissah said, “It does help marketers make better decisions, faster without overthinking things. If you can change your behavior and control where you focus your efforts, the sky’s the limit.”
For Marsha Collier, president of The Collier Company, Inc., biographies are a vital source of motivation. “I read biographies of people who have been proven to be successful. I read stories of businesses that have succeeded or have gone through trials and difficulties.”
One of Marsha’s favorite books is “The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger.”
“The book suggested that worldwide commerce would not have occurred had it not been for the shipping container,” Marsha said.“They lay out all the details and why, and how. It fascinated me and gave me new insights into that industry.”
4. Stay Current with Digital Resources
As marketing has gone digital, so have many of the best marketing resources.
Vengreso Co-Founder & CMO Bernie Borges is a big fan of podcasts. “If I need intellectual motivation, I go to my podcast player and pick one of the 15 or so podcasts that I listen to regularly.” In particular, he recommends Reid Hoffman’s “Masters of Scale.” “He always covers interesting entrepreneurs that have fascinating stories,” says Bernie.
Another of Bernie’s favorites is “Building a StoryBrand” hosted by Donald Miller, the CEO of StoryBrand. “He has interesting guests that span everything—it’s not all about marketing. A lot of times, it’s just about people who have really motivating stories,” Bernie says.
5. Look to Your Own Marketing Analytics and Customer Data
Many marketers look to their own marketing dashboards and customer data to provide detailed insights and inspiration for new customer experiences and marketing campaigns. For example, Naotaka Hayashi, executive officer for the Group ICT Strategy Office of PARCO, a large Japanese retail mall chain, writes inspiringly that, “We cannot change the past, but we can change the future. We will steadily work to collect and analyze past data and use what we learn to create our future.”
6. Get Involved in Industry or Nonprofit Activities
For some marketers, the pinnacle of inspiration and motivation is connecting with peers, clients, and the community at large.
Tom also finds inspiration by supporting nonprofits.“I look for ways to give back to the community, such as through initiatives like Two or More.”
7. Take in a Good Story Through Mainstream Media
Seeing something powerful on the big or small screen can leave you inspired and motivated—in life and your career.
“American Flyers has a special place in my heart when I really need to get inspired and motivated,” said Rob. “What makes American Flyers inspirational? The definition of the word ‘inspire’ usually describes the verb as influencing someone to do something creative or great. This film embeds the drama of real life within a high octane and high tempo cycling story that will get your creative energy flowing and feeling motivated.”
Mellissah recommends popular media as a way to learn the discipline of marketing. “For young marketers, watching shows like “The Bold Type” or “Younger” is good for seeing how new marketing platforms are used to target Gen Z and Millennials,” she said. “It also shows future marketers how engaged they should be in their career if they truly want to be successful.”
8. Get the Blood Pumping With Exercise
There’s plenty of research out there about the benefits of exercise. So perhaps it’s no surprise that some of our experts cite a good sweat as a secret to success.
“Finding motivation is something I do daily. It looks like this: 60 minutes of intense exercise. When I get that in, I can do almost ANYTHING,” said Sarah Evans, founder and CEO of Sevans Strategy.
But beyond getting our blood and enthusiasm flowing, taking a walk or hitting the gym is an excellent way to destress and work through problems.
“When I’m feeling sort of physically down, then getting outside—as long as the weather is nice—is motivational,” said Bernie. “Going to the gym is a source of motivation because it helps me put everything in perspective and work out frustrations and anxiety. I go early in the morning, so by the time I hit my desk, I’ve worked out, and I feel good.”
9. Remember the Past
For Jeanne Bliss, co-founder of Customer Bliss, inspiration comes from the words of historical figures who made the world a better place. “There are some quotes from Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt that are taped all over my wall,” she said.
“I also have several letters my dad wrote to me,” Jeanne said. “My dad’s not with us any longer, and magically the letters seem to appear in a drawer or under a pile of paper at exactly the moment when I need that kind of comforting note or words. And it may sound goofy, but his words are as soothing to me as almost anybody’s.”
10. Delight in Client Metrics
Tom Pick also uses client metrics when he needs a dose of motivation. “It’s a bit nerdy, but I check client analytics—a lot,” he said. “It’s how I show value to clients, and when I see growth in a client’s social media engagement, increased website traffic, and more leads coming in, that makes my day.”
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