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6 Easy (and Fun) Ways to Find Inspiration and Up Your Marketing Game

Stepping outside of your vertical is just one way you can shake things up.

6 Easy and Fun Ways to Find Inspiration and Up Your Marketing Game

By Colleen Ringer

While it’s always smart to keep an eye on the competition, focusing solely on what other marketers in your industry are doing can lead to a type of tunnel vision — and compromised sameness that doesn’t surprise or delight your audiences and followers. These six sources of inspiration, meanwhile, are guaranteed to generate new creative marketing campaign ideas and revitalize your imagination.

1. Rip Apart the Print Media

Pick up some print magazines that have nothing to do with your vertical, and tear out pages that contain elements that catch your attention — maybe it’s a beautiful photograph in one article, a clever headline in the next one, the way they designed a listicle in yet another. When you’ve collected maybe a dozen items, consider each specific one with an entirely new focus: How could this item be applied in your own marketing materials? (Sidenote: This makes for an invigorating team activity.)

Here, the creativity lies in the bend and twist: Don’t try to pick up the exact same idea and plop it down in your own world. Instead, find a special component or connection and focus on only that. A unique map treatment in a travel magazine, for example, might inspire how a DMO redesigns its guide to convention center facilities. A photograph of a gorgeous bouquet of flowers could lead a healthcare content team to develop an article about the myths and truths behind allergy season, specific to their region.

2. Be Fashionably Early

To ensure your marketing campaigns don’t feel behind the times, look to fashion and beauty brands and magazines, which frequently are the harbinger of design trends in typography and design.

For example, typefaces that once seemed popular, even ubiquitous, will reach mass saturation and become ripe for replacement. Not too long ago, the fonts of choice for labels and logos looked hand-hewn and woodblock-y, in an effort to convey the specialness of handmade items. The on-trend generation that followed pivoted toward the austerity and sophistication of all-caps, sans-serif text. More recently, typefaces with quirk and character have returned to the fore.

3. Mess Around on Social Media

Follow all kinds of accounts, not just those in your industry. Similar to the print exercise above, make note of particularly creative posts and approaches you admire in your feed, then dedicate a block of time to analyzing what makes them sing and how you might be able to re-create that magic in your own marketing campaigns.

Don’t be afraid to “waste time” venturing down various rabbit holes, clicking on accounts, boards, users and content specifically identified as similar to what you’ve previously taken a shine to. Sometimes, it’s what you stumble across five or six levels away from your starting point that offers the real surprise and delight.

4. Scour Your Online Reviews

Too often, organizations treat online reviews like something to be solved, not celebrated. In the aggregate, though, these messages can reveal elements or features that deserve a chance to shine in your marketing spotlight.

What regularly receives rave reviews, charms users or steals focus during particular times of the year? Figure out how to show those things some love. Conversely, you may discover opportunities to showcase certain features or aspects that appear to be underestimated hidden gems.

5. Be — or Hire — a Pop Culture Aficionado

The ever-changing world of pop culture can be a never-ending wellspring of content marketing inspiration, especially for social media content. When a moment from a particular series, podcast, movie or musical steps into the spotlight of both mainstream and social media, being able to genuinely and seamlessly connect your marketing message with it will convey both your creativity and the timeliness of your content.

On a related note, you can also see what other brands are doing wrong in this realm — the Twitterverse in particular will be glad to inform you about particularly egregious missteps.

6. Binge Watch

Settle into YouTube for a commercial binge-watching session. (Super Bowl ads are often the best place to start.) You’ll see how a wide range of marketing messages either hits the mark or misses entirely. Some will serve as a cautionary tale for brands that prioritized an irrelevant concept (often involving a celebrity) over communicating their main selling points. Others will demonstrate the type of risks that can work. The next day, think about the commercials that stuck with you. What made them memorable and how can you translate that to your next marketing campaign?

Stuck in a Marketing Rut?

We can help you bust out of it with ideas that are forward-thinking and grounded in strategy.


Colleen Ringer Overlay Blue
Colleen Ringer Editorial Director

Colleen has worked with clients large and small for more than a decade as a writer, editor and content strategist. She has managed content marketing programs for national and global brands, including hospital systems, universities and nonprofits. Before entering the world of content marketing, Colleen lived in the land of magazine publishing and wrote about architecture, design and travel.

As a mother of a video game-obsessed son, Colleen spends part of her free time learning about Fortnite and the other part trying to recruit her son to root for the Arizona Cardinals. She loves a good book, a strong iced tea and when her Fantasy Football team is winning.

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