People demand a lot of creativity from promotional products professionals these days. We live in the era of media overload, where viral video marketing and colorful infographics have become accepted means of engaging an audience. As they should, that’s what sets you apart from competition. In fact, more video content is uploaded to the web in one single month than TV has created in three decades! How is that for an information flood? Now, I don’t know about you, but for me to be interested in someone’s marketable ideas, they must be novel and relevant to my life. That way I can meander through the intricate mediums of the worldwide web and choose things that stand out.
This leaves us with a nearly impossible feat of constantly coming up with new and exciting concepts for promo campaigns. And even though we somehow manage to deliver on our creative promises, it is not always a smooth ride to originality. Some refer to this condition as a “mental block,” others prefer the term “apathy”, but ultimately, most people just feel uninspired. As a promotional products distributor, odds are you have stumbled across this issue once or twice in the past. So, how can you regularly perform when you are stuck in a rut?
Reaching that refreshing glimpse of inspiration is not as difficult as it may seem, at times you don’t need more than 5 minutes to get in the mood. Of course, when you are down on your luck and can’t get out of your discouraged head, it may take a few guiding steps to get you into the right mindset. Before diving into the actual practice, take the time to prepare your personal inspiration zone.
| Prepare Your Inspiration Zone
Your Inspiration Zone is both a physical and emotional state where you know you can work proactively. It varies from person to person, but basically serves as a safe place for you to tap into your creative reserves. Without further ado – see how easy it is to pick up on your prolific habits!
Learn your creative patterns
If you don’t know the ins and outs of your optimal work conditions, take the time to test and learn what helps you get engaged. Artists, for instance, like working with natural art; some graphic designers I know prefer using a Mac versus a PC; and I tend to go for classical music to accompany my writing method. Ask yourself the following questions to get a feel for your own creative patterns:
What music keeps you focused?
What lighting is the best for you?
What foods/drinks add to your productivity?
What temperature settings keep you alert?
Take time to research
Every great idea stems from another good idea. The concept of an absolutely original thought is somewhat misleading. As humans, we have evolved to continuously influence and bounce credos off one another. Some have perfected this art by surrounding themselves with information that keeps their gears turning, even if one’s own fuel had run out. Our world is full of material which was created by people like you and I, and we should use this knowledge to our advantage. Here are some ways in which you can get started:
Identify the authors you align with.
Create a library of inspiring musical artists.
Find out which publications spark your imagination.
Figure out which mediums of information entice you.
[Click here to] Subscribe
Now, if you are anything like me, your inbox is home to a chaotic influx of newsletters, subscription services, and an occasional, pertinent email. Even though it is easy to get lost in this messaging maze, getting rid of the services all together may be a hasty decision. It is just as important to clean out your emails and unsubscribe from unnecessary content, as it is to occasionally browse and sign up for inspirational material. For instance, some of the platforms for promotional products professionals we follow are:
And Pinterest for pretty much everything else.
Make sure to do your due diligence beforehand, so when you have the time to finally sit down and create your plat du jour, your thought process won’t be constrained. Having all these elements on hand can set you up for a very productive workday, and even more – a very productive life.
| 5 Minute Inspiration Zone
Having gathered all the necessary components to easily achieve these fleeting moments of stirring awakening, you have entered the 5 Minute Inspiration Zone. This is where you want to be and, ultimately, stay for your creatively demanding needs.
Set the scene
In the previous section, we have gathered 3 ways of preparing for this moment. This is the time to overwhelm your senses and bring some vigor into perspective! So, dim the lights, pop open the bookmarks, and scroll through the newsletters to point your brainpower in the right direction. But don’t stop there – heat up your favorite drink, put on some snazzy tunes and settle into your space. Sometimes preparation is the most important step to creation.
Uncover the “Why”
All originated content has an origin of birth. Whether you are generating a new piece for your employer or simply growing your personal portfolio, each project comes with an intent of purpose attached to its name. Sometimes the central idea behind our agenda gets lost in the various stages of preparation, leaving behind a whole lot of ambiguity on our plate. Retrace your footsteps back to the core of your task by asking the following questions:
“What am I aiming to achieve?” – Is it a physical response (sale, subscription, event attendance) or a mental stimulant (educational material, brand exposure, etc.)?
“Who is my audience?” – Who will be your end recipient? It personally helps me to imagine the person I am writing for. Is your client a multi-million, Fortune 500 business in need of a company store, or a family owned, niche shop looking to promote their small-scale brand? You simply can’t genuinely deliver if you can’t relate to your market!
Let go of Fear
It is true what they say – “A little fear is a good thing.” Though I find that to be certainly accurate, there is another side to fear that can directly impede any kind of creative practice. Fear is a tricky creature that propels us to feel both courageous and anxious during periods of acute enlightenment. We want to give it our all, yet we are afraid of how that “all” will be perceived. One word of advice on this matter – let go. Every great medium of work was at one point both nerve wracking and thrilling, and it is up to us to choose which form to give into. In this case, a mantra can be used to shed any sliver of doubt in your mind.
“I am a talented entrepreneur/sales agent/business owner/account manager and my next project will be a success!”
Create for 5 Minutes
I hear you, the final step seems somewhat counter-intuitive, compared to the above, very concrete list of options. How can you perform without being fully inspired by your subject? Here’s the kick – timing your efforts will provide you with an incremental goal. Your task is to have something done in the next five minutes, free of guidance and expectations. While keeping busy, you may actually find yourself being struck by an idea that evolves into your next piece.
On the occasion that your 5 minutes of creative exploration are up and you still haven’t reached any magical revelation – don’t worry. Our brains are experts at coming up with solutions to problems we may not even be aware of! And when you feel like all the worthwhile content had already been taken up by bright minds before you, take a deep breath and hand over the legwork. Our team of creative innovators here at SAGE is more than happy to help you inspire your clients with custom email marketing campaigns and tailored product catalogs. Surely, somewhere along the process a light bulb will go off and you will be immersed in the wonderful world of imaginative fulfillment.
I hope you could draw some essentially inspirational material for your next big sale! If you have more constructive tricks up your sleeve that can ignite a prosaic brain – leave a comment to share with the community!