“Creative thinking inspires ideas. Ideas inspire change.” – Barbara Januszkiewicz (American painter, filmmaker and creative activist)

How often do you come up with new ideas for your business? This is the month to focus on creativity! January is designated as International Creativity Month, a time that reminds us, “Thinking outside the box is just as important (if not more important) than simply following established procedure.”

How do you come up with fresh, innovative ideas for your business’ marketing plan and put them into action? Keep reading for suggestions to embrace your creativity and for 6 steps to make them a reality.

How to Embrace Creativity & Develop New Marketing Ideas

An image of a child wearing pretend wings and looking towards the sky with Hitchcocks quote superimposed on top.Where do you find your marketing ideas?

“Ideas come from everything.” – Alfred Hitchcock (English film director and producer)

When you think of coming up with creative ideas, there are probably the standard tidbits of advice that come to mind:

  • Keep a notebook with you to write down thoughts when they pop into your head
  • Change your environment; work somewhere different
  • Write down everything you think of (even if they initially seem like bad ideas)
  • Put down the cell phone, tablet and other electronic distractions
  • Doodle or draw to use a different part of your brain
  • Read the news and your industry’s trade publications
  • Embrace downtime
  • Play
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Do something new that’s out of your comfort zone

Research: Developing Creative Marketing Ideas

An image of a child playing in a box with science symbols and the Einstein quote superimposedFind marketing inspiration by following this research.

“Imagination is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein (German-born physicist)

But what does research say? According to studies conducted by the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the number one thing you can do to increase creativity and develop new ideas is: Be open to new experiences.

What that means is constantly challenging yourself beyond your comfort zone, constantly questioning assumptions, being intellectually curious and appreciating beauty. Personal growth is intimately tied to openness and experience…Any exposure to things that take you out of your normal way of viewing the world really increases cognitive flexibility and is a core part of creativity.

Research also shows that new ideas can be generated from simple, every day activities like going for a walk and taking a shower. The thought is that nature, movement and relaxation all play a part in your mind creating innovative thoughts. Another theory is that transition activities like walking, jogging, showering and falling asleep allow the mind to wander, providing an opportunity for it to develop new creative solutions to a problem at hand.

Additional research-backed insights show that creative new ideas can stem from:

  • Making time for solitude as well as collaboration. “Research has found that creative people frequently require solitude in order to generate interesting new ideas, and then turn to collaboration to spin those ideas into a coherent concept or product.”
  • The ability to shift your mindset to, “Think like a kid,” or an outsider that’s new to your field. As this study shows, “There is a benefit in thinking like a child to subsequent creative originality.”
  • The determination to keep trying. As numerous highly successful people have said:
    • “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
    • “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.” – Benjamin Franklin
    • “I can accept failure; everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan
    • “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” – J.K. Rowling
  • The color green. A study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin showed, “When students were given creativity tests, those whose test-cover pages had a green background gave more creative answers than those whose pages were white, blue, red or gray.” It’s thought that this is because, to many, green represents fertility, growth and renewal.
  • Daydreaming. It’s been shown that letting your mind wander gives it the opportunity to subconsciously come up with new approaches to problems you’re facing.
  • Moderate drinking, perhaps because it releases some inhibitions.
  • Watching funny videos. Those funny cat videos you find on YouTube are shown to put viewers in a positive mood, which is linked to higher creativity.

Instilling New Ideas Into Your Marketing Plan

An image of a computer, notebook and coffee with Disneys quote superimposed on top.Are you ready to take action on your marketing plan?

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney (American entrepreneur, cartoonist, animator, voice actor and film producer)

Here are 5 steps to add your new, creative ideas into your company’s marketing plan:

  1. Keep a list. As you go for a walk or take a shower, write down new ideas that pop into your head. Make sure you’re following the advice above by making time to think by yourself or approaching your field like a child might. Maybe surround yourself with the color green, whether it’s getting out into nature or surrounding yourself with houseplants (or even pictures of trees), or take a break to find some funny videos on YouTube. Write down any and all new ideas that come to mind, even if you can’t see a connection to your marketing plan right away.
  2. Review your list. Do any of your new ideas stand out to you? Can you think of ways to relate them to your business’ marketing plan? Don’t be afraid of something that may seem “out there.” New and creative approaches can seem crazy, but are often worth considering.
  3. Prioritize. Which ideas do you want to try first? It’s much better to try one new approach at a time. You want to do it well and really take the time to see how it works rather than split your focus between numerous ideas you don’t have the energy and resources for.
  4. Set a goal. What do you hope to achieve with your new idea? And by when? Make sure the goals you set for yourself are SMART:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Relevant
    • Timely
  5. Create a plan of attack. How will you put your new idea into motion? What tactics will you use as you implement it into your marketing strategy?
  6. Evaluate. After a reasonable amount of time (likely 6 months to a year), consider how the new tactic went. Was it a successful part of your marketing strategy? Is there something you should change about it and try again?

Slowly work your way through your list of new ideas, and keep track of the ones that work well and the ones that don’t. Implementing new tactics into your business’ marketing one at a time will allow you to regularly breathe fresh life into your plan and prevent your business’ public relations strategy from getting stale.

Marketing Resources for Putting Creative Ideas Into Action

An image of two goats with Sue Graftons quote on top.Don’t miss these helpful marketing resources.

“Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.” – Sue Grafton (American author)

What if you need some outside resources for implementing your new marketing strategies? Don’t miss this helpful list of websites that can help:

  1. Canva.com is a fantastic resource for creating visuals. In fact, I used it to design the quote images throughout this post! Through this website, you’re able to select the dimensions of the image you’d like to create based on how you plan to use it (Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) and manipulate pictures and text to design a custom image for your business. In addition to being able to upload your own photos to use, Canva also has a stock image library; you can choose from their free pictures or purchase the rights to the one(s) you like for $1 each.
  2. Adobe Spark is a helpful resource for creating video slideshows. It’s easy to use, comes with stock background music and is free or inexpensive, depending on which plan you choose to use.
  3. Hubspot created 5 infographic templates you can use to design your own visual guides!
  4. If you want to add more timely updates to your blogging, social media marketing or other elements of your content marketing plan, DaysOfTheYear.com is a great resource! In addition to listing all sorts of upcoming notable days, they list months of the year for you to reference (such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month or International Creativity Month).
  5. Free Stock Photos is another Hubspot resource that allows you to create custom content for your company. Their image library includes all sorts of pictures you can download and use in your business’ marketing efforts for free.

In Conclusion

An image of a child dressed as a superhero holding the world with Robin Williams quote on top.Are you ready to change the world with your marketing messages?

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Robin Williams (American actor and comedian)

Although International Creativity Month is only during the month of January, as a business owner it’s important you are constantly coming up with new, innovative strategies year-round. Do you have any suggestions to add to my advice? Share your tips and insight in the comments below! I’d love to hear what’s worked well for you and your company.