Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

We all have those moments. We all have those moments where we are like, I need to create something, but I don’t know what that is. Whether it’s a social media post, an email, you have to write a website, or you have to create a graphic design. Maybe you’re not in the marketing world or not touching your marketing, and you have to create something for your business, whether it’s a product, brochure, or whatever it might be. We’ve all had those moments, and our brains just don’t want to get on board. 

So one of the things that I have figured out for myself is how to get out of a creative slump. It’s something that I recommend for everybody. It’s such a personal process, but we all need to know, okay, what do I need to do to snap out of this? I don’t even really like the word “snap out of this” because it implies that we can just flip a switch. But sometimes there are seasons of our lives that we feel more creative and then there are seasons where we feel less creative. Like for example, a few months after Maddie was born, I started getting all of these ideas, and I had to start writing them out. I have five new business ideas, and I don’t have the time to do it. And so that was what was so frustrating, is I was getting all of these ideas, but didn’t actually have time to complete them. But I’ve also had other seasons where I’m just dry. I’m so dry, I can’t think of anything. I have those in days, sometimes in weeks. I just wanna normalize that our brains are not made to constantly be creating, they also need to be consuming. 

Somebody told me once that there’s no new ideas under the sun. It feels like something that they might have gotten from Ecclesiastes in the Bible. And maybe it is, I don’t know. But either way, there are those moments where we’re actually repurposing ideas. We are adamant over at Stratos, we’re never plagiarizing. We don’t want to. People have good ideas. But every new idea is an iteration of an old idea, or a compilation of a few ideas. The first time I heard that I had a really hard time with it because I was like, “No, I have new ideas.” But then I started noticing that usually even my ideas, while they weren’t copycats of other ideas, they were inspired by conversations that I had with people or products that I saw, and I thought I could make better, whatever it might be. 

And so while there might not be any new ideas under the sun, or maybe there are, I don’t know, I don’t wanna start that philosophical argument, I think that there are ways that when you don’t have an idea, you can start coming up with one. And so, I have two principles that I work by. I’m gonna be totally honest with you, they’re actually opposite to each other. While I was typing out my notes for this podcast, I started realizing I’m actually recommending to people that they do opposite things. And so, I think that goes to show, I’m a multifaceted person; some seasons I need something else, and then other seasons I need a different solution. And so, that’s up to you to figure out what works for you, and that’s why it is such an individualized process. 

Without further ado, let’s get practical. My techniques that I use, I mentioned they’re opposite, are either consume more or step away. Let’s talk about stepping away first. Sometimes when you have to create something, we go to Instagram to consume. The problem is that then, we can either get distracted, or because we are so desperate, we’re gonna be tempted to rip off other people’s ideas rather than repurposing them or reimagining them. And so, one of the first things that I generally do is I choose to step away from my project. The thing that I love to do is to be outside, take a walk, go for a hike. If you can move your body, it actually is gonna push more blood into your brain. And so that is part of it, is we want to get out and move our bodies and exercise. Part of being outside is also, we’re gonna be able to notice things. One of the things that I have started realizing is that when I step away, my marketing brain is still on in the background. As a business owner, you know we can never turn our business brain off fully. But when I go outside, I can start thinking, “Oh, I saw that billboard, that was really interesting and it caught my eye.” Or I can start noticing, “Hey, I’m on a hike. Wow, I feel so inspired, and this is the sort of feeling I want my marketing to evoke.” 

And so, I might not even be thinking about the practical part of marketing, but I’m thinking through, this is what I want people to feel. You’ve heard it before, but that’s even how Marketing in the Wild as a podcast was brainstormed, and we came up with some of the concepts for it. I love Yellowstone. We go there every year, and it is one of the best things that I can do for my mental health, or even for my business, is to take time off, but especially to be in nature. If you’ve been to Yellowstone, you know a big majority of the part, you’re driving from one destination to another. And so that time, my husband and I used to talk, and so we talked through some of the podcast ideas. He was a sounding board for me. And so that’s even where we get our bear. Fun fact, I saw 26 bears last time I went to Yellowstone. DM me, and I’ll tell you why.

Anyway, some other things that I love doing for stepping away is reading a book. This kind of fits into both categories of consuming more and stepping away. But when I say step away, I don’t mean read a business book, I mean read a novel, or read something fun. I also think listening to music can help us relax. Like when our bodies are in stress mode, we are not creative. And so, if we can get to a point where we’re relaxing and enjoying life, we are more likely to be creative. Last thing is to go on a trip. I’ve mentioned this before, but some of my favorite ideas come from being exposed to other cultures, other situations. We were in Florida a few weeks ago, and just recently, we, at Stratos, launched a swag shop. And so now every time we go places, we’re looking and eyeing up everybody else’s swag. And so, even my husband was in a coffee shop, and he noticed a few mugs that we absolutely loved, and now we’re in the process of emailing that business owner and figuring out where they got their mugs produced. Things like that. 

So I encourage you, especially if you haven’t done it before, to try some of these stepping away techniques. Go outside, take a walk, go for a hike, read a fun book, even watch a fun movie, listen to music, relax, go on a trip. All of these are doable. Some of them cost money, some of them don’t. So we actually have no excuses to give our brains a break. But that’s the whole point, is that if you’re in a creativity rut or if you’re in a slump, give your brain a break. 

Second part. Opposite to this is consume more. I felt so silly for making this another part of how to get back to creativity because personally, what I need more is to step away, but there are times where I do need to consume more and lean in. So like I said, you wanna be careful with this one because if you’re just bored, you might get sucked in, you might be tempted to rip off ideas rather than recreate or reimagine, especially if you’re feeling desperate. So here are some tips that I would use if I was gonna tell you to consume more. They’re actually ones that I use for myself. So if I’m trying to figure out some social media content, sometimes I scroll through some of my favorite accounts on social media. Just recently, I set a goal for myself to start doing more engagement, which you’re probably like, “Julia, isn’t that what you teach and you’re supposed to do all the time?” Yes. Yes, it is. But I don’t always practice what I preach! We’re all human, right? 

And so sometimes, or lately what I’ve been doing is I’ve been scrolling through some of my favorite accounts and saving posts that I loved, or sharing them with my marketing team. Again, we’re not gonna copy and paste it, we aren’t even going to rip it off. One recently that I loved was a carousel post about explaining and breaking down marketing insider language. The person did a great job. Her name is Hilary Krueger. I aspire to have her on this podcast someday, and she broke it down. She talked about a sales funnel, what top of funnel is. I sent it to some people on our team, and I was like, “This is great.” Are we gonna do the same exact thing? No, but I love the idea of explaining insider language. Like, what are we doing that is insider language and how can we explain it? And so, that’s where we’re re-imagining some of what she did and putting our own spin on it. Like, what are some insider language terms that we’re using around social media?

Guys, I hate to interrupt this podcast, but I wanna share a quick message about a resource we have here at Stratos for you.

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So that’s an example of that one. I also just love to have fun, and so you can enjoy social media. And so if you’re watching cat videos, I really do think that that counts. That might be hybrid, consume more, step away. You get to decide! 

Some other things that I love to do for consuming more is reading books and articles from our industry. I recently read an article by a different social media company about how they started using less hashtags. It’s fascinating, and it really inspired me to look at, okay, what are our hashtag research strategies? What are some of the things that we could change? And they did such a good job. And they even listed some of their sources for why they made the decision that they did. And so now, I’m like, those are ones that I wanna make sure that I read on the daily or on the regular. And so even that, they’re a competitor but they’re doing an excellent job, and it doesn’t mean that we’re doing any worse of a job, but it is super inspirational and has helped me get out of this slump around hashtags. 

One of my other favorite things to do is to watch a documentary about business owners. There is one about Madam C.J. Walker. She was a black woman who created a company of hair products. This is a dramatization, it’s not actually a documentary. It’s a dramatization of her life. It is super good, pretty accurate, and it was just so inspiring. She’s recorded as the first female millionaire in the Guinness Book of World’s Records. She’s also one of the leading African-American female business owners in our history. She’s an incredible story. And so for me, spending time and watching that, trust me, I watch plenty of Netflix, but to watch something that was inspiring and see how she was accomplishing all of these really cool things against all of this hardship was incredible. So highly recommend! There’s always other business documentaries too. 

I even will watch some of the other ones like LuLaRich, which talks about the demise of LuLaRoe, things like that, or some of the scandals. I actually even count things like the documentary about the Fyre Festival or the show about Anna Sorokin. And even those things, I would count as consuming more. While I’m not marking them down on my timesheet for hours, they are about people who have brilliant minds, even if some of them are twisted, Fyre Festival and Anna Sorokin, they are really good to see people’s creativity. And so, that’s one of my favorite things to do. 

The other thing that I love doing is listening to business podcasts. You have this one obviously, hopefully you’re inspired to do new things from this one. But even some of my other favorites are the Building a StoryBrand one, also Business Made Simple. Those are both good. But you might find some that are in your niche, and I would recommend listening to those. I’ve listened to some about building a podcast and what makes that successful. Carson Murray, one of our previous guests, has a great podcast about email marketing. It’s called Just Keep Showing Up. Love it also. Some of my other favorite ones are peripheral. One of them is Women in Entrepreneurship. It’s one that was released a few years ago. There was six or seven episodes about Historic Women, one of them being Madam C.J. Walker, but then also Chanel, all of these major brands that we think of and we don’t realize where they came from. It was super interesting hearing the history and the story behind these. 

Then some of the other things that I love to do is noticing other forms of marketing. And so this is kind of the crossover between stepping away and consuming more, is I am noticing billboards. You gotta get out of your house to go look up billboards. Lately, I have been watching some commercials, and it doesn’t sound crazy because most of everything that people watch nowadays are not commercials. We have commercial free things all the time. I can’t remember what it was. We just got Peacock, and we have the commercial ridden version of it. And while Roger gets annoyed every time a commercial comes on, I am like, “This might be the best part.” And so, I have loved watching commercials again and seeing, oh wow, that’s what’s working! Recently, I came across these Liberty Mutual ads, and they’re actually so good. They all start with, “Research shows that you will remember that Liberty Mutual customizes your home insurance if we show you a crazy stunt. So here’s something you shouldn’t try at home.” And then they do a stunt. And so, it’s just really fun. And I actually went down a rabbit trail after this, and you’ll hear about that in a different episode, but it was really great. It helps me reimagine, okay, what are we doing in marketing that’s working? Because if this Liberty Mutual Insurance commercial is catching my attention, what are they doing right? 

And so, that’s one of the things that is my favorite about consuming more, is observing what’s working. What’s catching your attention? If you still listen to the radio rather than Spotify or anything else, what, on the radio, in the ads, catches your attention? So that’s something that I have started noticing. And if it doesn’t catch your attention, ask yourself why. So it’s a really great way to determine what works for you and what doesn’t. 

So real quick, consuming more, scroll through some of your favorite social media accounts and have fun, read books and articles from your industry, watch the documentary, listen to business podcasts, learn more about these other business owners in our history, also notice other forms of marketing, what’s working, what’s not working, and why did it work? And even take it one step further, would it work for your target market? 

This is what I’ll say to you, everybody, is if you’re feeling like you’re in a slump, you’re okay. It’ll be okay. It won’t be forever if you’re trying to get out of the slump. Because sometimes we don’t have an option, we have to start creating because we’re under a deadline or we’re under pressure. If you’re in that space, what I would encourage you is to take diligent action throughout your day where you’re either stepping away or consuming the appropriate things to help you get creative. If you’re smart, and this is not something that I do, so I’m not lumping myself in that smart bucket. If you’re smart, you’ll start doing this every day in some form or fashion so you can stay on top of your productivity brain or your creativity brain. Sometimes when our productivity and our creativity come in conflict, that’s where we have a problem. But if you can stay on top of keeping your brain creative, and fresh, and learning new things, you will have a much, much better chance of staying out of a slump in the first place. 

So if you have tips on how to stay out of a slump or how to get out of a creativity slump, I would love to hear them. I’m always adding to my personal toolbox, my repertoire of skills, and I would love to hear them. So pop on over to social media or send me an email. We love hearing from our listeners! Every time somebody sends me a personal email about an episode that they loved, it seriously makes my day. If it’s a guest episode, I make sure to tell that guest because we put a lot of hard work and a lot of time into this, and we wanna make sure that it’s valuable. The hardest part about a podcast is that it is so one-sided. I don’t get to hear from you what you like, what you don’t like. The analytics are boggy and not very fun to look at. And so words from friends and words from listeners always mean more than anything. You guys have a great week, and we’ll be here next week.

Friends, thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast episode. I am so glad that you have. If you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, I just ask you to subscribe so you know each time we have a new episode coming out. If you’ve loved our podcast and wanna give us a rating or a review, I promise, we will read each and every one of them. A special shout out to our friend, Carson Childers, who is producing our podcast. We really appreciate him and all the hard work that he’s done for us.

Also, thanks to the Stratos team. They have been behind the scenes doing all of the graphic design, brainstorming, et cetera, et cetera. Really, this wouldn’t be possible without them. I’m thankful for each and every one of you guys. 

Lastly, listener, we’ll be back next week, and I hope you will be too.