During those six miles of round-trip walking and the time alone on the mountain, I came up with two ideas to drive my agency business, solved a creative challenge for one client, and established two core ideas for future columns.
For me, walking and isolation spur thought. However, not everyone has the opportunity or desire for mid-week camping. What everyone does need, though, are those moments to let thoughts percolate and have the good ideas to rise to the top. This is especially true in the go-go pace of social media.
If long walks on isolated mountaintops are what you reserve for your Match.com profile, perhaps one of these ideas might do the trick instead.
Cover for a colleague headed out of the office for vacation. This could be a fellow social media professional or could be someone in an entirely different department. Just make sure their job is not exactly the same as yours. The idea is to vary your work, not just increase it.
While you’re covering, take a look at your business or brand through your colleague’s eyes and needs. See how interacting with your customers differs from this new angle. See if you spot ways you can be collaborating with your colleague to drive the business further.
You have a target audience. Many other companies have this same target audience but don’t compete with your business. Arrange to do a one-week job swap with someone doing social media at one of these businesses.
The benefits are several:
Work Among Your Audience
Be a fly on the wall. Blend into the background. Sit somewhere and just observe.
Go to a restaurant, bar, museum, store or other gathering place your target audience frequents. Then, pretend to be just another person there and not a marketer.
Listen to what people talk about on their cell phones or with their friends. See what they purchase or browse. Take note of what they wear. See what games they’re playing on their cell phones or what music is making them move to the beat.
Strike up conversations and ask questions. As them what they think of something. What they recommend. What they like or don’t.
Don’t have any motivation other than to learn. Definitely don’t sell. Only tell them what you do if they ask. Then tell them honestly.
Do this, and I guarantee you new ideas will come to you without effort.
The digital world sucks you in. The constant flow of information and ubiquitous access to friends tugs directly at psychological needs built into our nature. It distracts and interrupts.
As beautiful a thing as the social/digital world is, it can also be a major hindrance.
Take some time away from your distractions. Isolate yourself physically or technologically. How long depends on the level of isolation. For instance, going camping overnight in isolation removes nearly every element of digital and advertising, thus accomplishing the purge quickly. However, simply unplugging your cell phone might take 48 hours to feel the same effect because you will still be hit by advertising and marketing from television, radio and out-of-home.
However, with the right combo of isolation and time, your mind begins to settle and problems start to unwind.
Sometimes your mind needs to celebrate freedom, too.