While data increasingly drives marketing, it still straddles the line between art and science. You can have mountains of data about consumers or potential clients, but you need that creative spark to do something with that data. If you’ve made it to the position of CMO, chances are you’ve shown your creative talents to great acclaim already, but we all hit a wall from time to time.
Sure, you can shake it off in different ways. Workout. Imbibe something if that’s your preference (but we wouldn’t advise this in business hours - we don’t live in Mad Men world anymore). Engage with a hobby that leaves your subconscious time to work over the problem. Admittedly there were many more ways pre-pandemic (museums, theatre, concerts, even just going for a walk and hanging out with people. Hopefully we’ll see them back soon!).
But even if you’ve got those creative juices flowing, you need that spark to get things going (is that a mixed metaphor?). The myth that artists pluck inspiration from their raw consciousness or from the heavens is still, unfortunately, still floating around. But “good artists borrow, great artists steal” (totally our quote, not Picasso). But, where to find that inspiration?
Here are some handy sources of inspiration to help you find that creative spark (which you can access from the comfort of your own home in these tricky times). After all, we all need some help from time to time, fresh-faced junior marketers, all the way up to the heights of CMOs and beyond.
No CMO wants to be seen as a follower, but other CMOs are a great source for inspiration. After all, there’s no such thing as marketing in vacuum. Got a brand you’re a big fan of? Seen a really great ad or piece of marketing? Odds are there’s a CMO somewhere who's responsible for that. Find out who they are and follow them on social media (not just LinkedIn, check them out on Twitter, or even Instagram if they have one). Often they’ll share valuable insights, chart their actions in developing certain projects, or even just their hobbies and interests. If you can build a good enough connection, they might even be open to you asking them directly for help and advice.
They don’t even have to be from the same industry as you. There’s plenty to be learned from successes (and failures) outside of your immediate orbit.
Movies and TV
Sure, we all watch movies and tv for our own entertainment, but paying attention to what’s popular can be a valuable source of inspiration, especially with the amount of streaming people have been consuming during the pandemic.
As an example, let’s take Netflix’s surprise hit from 2020: Queen’s Gambit (if you haven’t watched it, we recommend). Netflix rarely releases viewing figures, but they broke their precedent this time around to crow about their success: 62 million households watched the series within the first 28 days of release, making it their most successful limited scripted series ever. Now, we seriously doubt it was interest in chess that spurred such huge viewing figures. More likely it was increased interest in female-led stories, a storming performance by Anya Taylor-Joy, and a killer 60’s aesthetic. Now we don’t all have the budget to get Anya Taylor-Joy to front our campaigns, but female-driven campaigns and inspiration from 60’s design is something that’s within many of our wheelhouses.
Podcasts are a great source of information and entertainment about just about every subject imaginable. If you’re a podcast newbie, you’ll find just about anything to match your interests to help with that creative spark.
But whether you’re just dipping your toe into the podcast ocean, or you’ve got a library on rotation, it might be worth sprinkling in some podcasts from some marketing thought leaders. We’ve got you covered there. Check out our article on top podcasts for CMOs.
With all this “new” media we’ve been talking about, it can be easy to forget about the good old printed word (or audiobook, this isn’t the Dark Ages). You can find plenty of inspiration in a good book, both fiction and non-fiction. There’s even plenty of books from marketing thought leaders.
But where to find them? Oh, what’s this? It’s our recommended reading list of great books for CMOs.
Where do you find inspiration? Let us know! Once we’re through the pandemic we might give this an update with some more sources of inspiration, so hit us up with some post-pandemic inspiration that you’re looking forward to.