What happens when you hit a creative wall? Or do you ever feel like you are tapped out of ideas, especially when it is crunch time? Some people are idea machines and then, there is the rest of us. We need a little nudge to get our brains moving toward the development of a great sales or marketing campaign, or a better way to approach a situation that is in dire need of something snappy or creative. When that time comes, how do you find inspiration? It can be different for everybody, but here are some things that work for me.
I get some of my best ideas while I am listening to podcasts. First of all, what is a podcast? A podcast is a free audio or video that can be subscribed through iTunes and played on your iPod/iPhone, computer, or mp3 device. A podcast can be about any subject and is usually in the form of education, entertainment or interview. There are thousands to choose from in many different interests and niches. These are great for two reasons: they are informative and they are free. I have found what works best for me is to listen to them as I drive to and from work each day, but you can easily incorporate them into your exercise program or leisure time.
For me, a podcast just gets my creative juices flowing. I listen to a lot of podcasts that have to do with sales and marketing. Often times I will be able to expound on an idea that is being discussed or it may send me off in a completely different direction, but the point is, to inspire creative thought and action. It works wonders and I highly suggest that you try it. Here are a few podcasts that I listen to regularly, give them a try. If they are not for you, just type in a quick search in the podcast directory and see what you like.
(clicking the above links may open iTunes or ask you to install it)
It takes me forever to read a book. I often start a book and then finish it up to a year later. Why does it take me so long to read it? I take a lot of notes while I am reading and then it begins to ignite ideas that I start working on and before I know it, I have put the book down and began creating something great. Even with all of the technology we have and the classes and workshops that cost us loads of money, a book is a tremendous value. For less than twenty bucks, you are awarded hundreds of pages filled with the author’s life’s work on a particular subject. That information is way more than you are going to get out of a 3-day workshop or seminar. Even if I don’t finish the book, I still got one amazing idea from reading it, which was well worth the measly $20.
Small business books I have read recently and recommend:
- Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love
- Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide
If I am in need of a effective idea for a sale, sometimes I will look to other companies to see what is working for them. If they had a great sales idea, there is nothing wrong with adapting it to fit my needs or simply “borrowing” it. I will look in department stores or skim through magazine ads or direct mail. It’s a good idea to keep a folder of advertisements that you have received in the mail or torn out of a magazine, so that you can use them as inspiration in the future. I will even do a quick search in Google for keywords or images that may be about a certain topic that I have been kicking around for a sale. Recently, I was looking on iStock.com, for an image for a direct mail piece I was putting together and as a result came up with an entire campaign and a bunch of signage for the store. If you are not familiar with iStock.com, it is an amazing resource for high quality photography, images, illustrations, and videos that are priced very competitively for you to license and use.
The last thing I would suggest to inspire that million dollar idea is to simply do something that you love. Just being a part of something that takes you out of your element or provides you with a sense of being can result in creativity and inspiration. For some it may be rock climbing or free running, for others it may be painting or gardening. You just need to get to that place where your mind is set free to think and be inspired. Push yourself a little bit and the ideas will start to flow.
These are all exercises that I use on a regular basis to feed my creativity.
How do you come up with a great idea? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.