There's no doubt about it--clear thinking is the most important part of getting your marketing message right.
Sure, you've got all your background information together. But without the benefit of your creative little gray cells, as Hercule Poirot called them, that information isn't worth much.
To make that information morph into a powerful marketing message, it needs to be brought alive by a clear, unobstructed thought process on your part.
Trouble is that isn't always easy with the pressures of modern business to contend with. Here are some of the obstacles that can get in your way, and some ideas on how to overcome them.
1. We've Got to Respond Now or Lose the Opportunity
Not really. There aren't many opportunities that can't wait five minutes--even if it means saying you'll call right back or email them immediately to help close a sale.
You'll benefit enormously from those five minutes even if all you do is walk over to the water cooler and back before responding.
People prone to temper tantrums are told to count to ten before they say anything, and the theory behind that works here too. To react with a knee-jerk can make you look like one, so don't take a chance on it unless a snap decision really is unavoidable.
2. the Deadline Isn't for Another Week
This is the other side of the same coin. Because you've got other things you have to finish before that week's up, your deadline keeps getting shuffled to the bottom of the deck. Before you know it, it IS another week.
Of course, long lead times can be de-motivating, and often if you start working on a marketing message too early you then spend the rest of the time tinkering with it. The result is the message loses all its momentum and has about as much energy and spontaneity as a moldy tomato.
Don't let deadlines drive you. Take the wheel and drive them, without rushing, but with just enough time pressure to focus your mind sharply on getting your message right.
3. I Know This Subject Matter Backwards
Yes, and that's the trouble. Familiarity breeds contempt.
It also breeds tired, worn-out marketing messages. Don't reach up to the top shelf in your brain and pull down last month's solution, no matter how well it worked that time.
By all means add your past experience into the message. But remember to keep experience in its proper place--the past. No matter how many similarities there are in surrounding circumstances, never assume you can get away with producing a clone.
Fresh, original thinking will make marketing messages work, and most things in life are only fresh and original once.
4. I Know What the Audience Wants to Read/See/Hear
Not necessarily. Just because a message got them clicking or calling or buying in droves last time doesn't mean they'll respond the same way now. A couple of weeks or even a couple of hours can make an enormous difference to the way an audience will perceive you and receive your message.
A workforce before and after the announcement of a plant closure? Consumers before and after a media exposé about the dangers of a chemical sweetener in your chocolate bars? Stockholders before and after a market crash?
Always, always take a fresh look at the circumstances of your audience, and ensure your message takes those into account.
5. I'd Love to Do Something New, But It'll Never Get Approval
Oh, those corporate politics again. Yes, approval can be hard to obtain, especially when it involves getting through a committee of umpteen experts all with their own agendas and axes to grind.
Well, no one said being creative and original is easy. I'll bet even the person who invented the wheel got a hard time from his or her committee to start with.
Provided you can justify your marketing message with solid evidence and common sense, most superior beings (even committees) will see the logic and give you the go-ahead. It never hurts to try, anyway, and once your message gets out there and proves itself successfully, the next time should be easier.
6. I Can't Think Straight with All This Racket in Here
Clear thinking is relatively easy if you happen to work in a cozy log cabin set in a verdant pasture, with not a single soul, cell (or cellphone for that matter!) to mar the magnificence.
Given that large offices are to log cabins what express trains are to bicycles, clear thinking in this environment can be more of a challenge.
Here's a trick. Go and sit quietly somewhere other than at your desk. At the risk of offending some of you, the bathroom is a good choice. Yes, in a cubicle, sitting down. I've done some of my best thinking and had some of my most useful ideas in precisely these surroundings. (And I've heard all the jokes about it, too.)
My theory: You're cocooned in a small, plain space with absolutely no external mental stimulation.
Your car, or the staff restaurant outside of meal times, will also work. Discard irrelevant thoughts one by one as they occur, and keep nudging yourself back to the project.
Let it come. Soon you'll find things settling into place and you'll be able to prioritize and organize your thoughts.
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