Posted by : Amanda Stein Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Many successful business professionals know that inspiration can be found all around, often in surprising places. If you are looking for better ways to execute your marketing plans, then you need to know where to look for the proper inspiration.

Watch People

The interactions between people in a candid setting are about as honest as human nature can get. Instead of putting people into a controlled setting, you should just observe people as they interact naturally. Pay close attention to how people react to each other when they do not realize that they are being observed and you will find inspiration for your marketing. Often in focus groups, people act and respond unnaturally. Candid interactions between people can show how customers truly feel and react to changes on products. Look at social media to see how customers are reacting, and don't be afraid to engage and question customers to see what they want or like.

In Your Competition's Advertising

Every once in a while, you will see a company that blatantly rips off the advertising of its competition. This is usually done for shock value, but the real value of this is very low. There is inspiration for your own marketing to be found in the work that your competition is doing, but you have to look for what is not there as opposed to looking at what is there. What is your competition forgetting? What deficiency in their offering are they trying to deflect attention away from that you can use to your advantage? Try to find alternative uses for your product that aren't being advertised, or customer groups that are being neglected. Delta Air Lines, for example, recently kicked off an ad campaign called “Somos Delta” to target an under served Latino population in the US.

Look At Marketing From Outside Your Industry
Even though companies outside your industry are targeting a different audience than you are, there is still inspiration to be found in their advertisements. What angles are other companies in other industries using to reach their target audiences? Are they doing something that would fit your business? When Us manufacturers began benchmarking their production lines with the Japanese auto industry, six sigma, Kaizen, and a host of game changing reforms took place in all sorts of industries. Benchmarking your marketing efforts could be equally productive if you find a suitable example in a field outside of your industry. If, for instance, you wanted to learn how to make viral video advertisements that became cult hits and soured to millions of views on Youtube, you could look to industries that master that form of advertising, like extreme sports competitions and comedy shows. You might not need to feature big waves or goofy actors to learn how to build a viral video ad if that's what you are looking to do.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities

Can staring at trees inspire you to a great marketing campaign? It has happened before and it will happen again. In nature, there are millions of conditional relationships. If the leaf falls from a tree, then it must hit the ground. It sounds very simple, because it is. But if you look long enough at the conditional relationships in nature, then you will find inspiration for your own advertising. Remember that the Wright Brothers were inspired to fly by bird-watching. Imagine what ideas you could come up with when you are enjoying your favorite outdoor activities. Taking time away from the office can actually be more productive if that time is spent wisely. Many companies now encourage their executives and managers to take good vacations in order to refresh their creativity, and help them stay inspired.

Go Back To Your Old Campaigns

Marketing is something that is always evolving. That is why your old campaigns can be great ways to inspire new ideas. Take what you have learned over the years and apply it to the way you used to market your business. Much like looking through an old journal, or files on a computer, these old campaigns can be a spark for new ideas, many of which might dovetail perfectly with older ones, and build a stronger brand. For example, when Dominoes re-branded in 2009, they used a video clip from their old ads in the 1980's to show just how different they were. Rather than be the quick and greasy pizza machine that they had been known as, Dominoes highlighted the shift towards quality ingredients and integrated customer feedback. This move to build off of old mistakes helped them re-brand faster, and shake off old stereotypes.

Inspiration is all around us, all we have to do to find it is look for it. Often times the best marketing ideas come from some of the most unlikely sources of inspiration.

Author Bio: Marlena Stoddard writes on marketing and branding. For small business marketing, Marlena recommends ideas that highlight a company's strengths. Follow Marlena on Google+.

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