Every morning, I take the same path to work. It’s partly due to expediency (it *is* the fastest way there) and partly due to the fact that I’m still in a sort of bleary-eyed stupor. And every evening I take the same route back to the house because it’s fast and I’m ready to be home. Sound familiar to you?
We might say this is just a minor routine, a sort of automatic action that allows us to rest our hyperactive decision-making brain for a short while after a long work day. But when does this minor routine start to snowball into something worse? When do we find ourselves stuck in a rut or become a slave to these routines? It’s not only bad for our brains, but leads to mundane and boring experiences.
Last week, Grant McCracken posted a really thought-provoking piece on this issue. He wrote about how not only our everyday experience easily becomes predictable and ordinary but how it infects our larger social worlds. We enter a state of “stasis” where our relationships are weighted down by inevitability and stability. As Grant notes, it happens to couples who’ve been married for a while. It also happens within our work teams, our divisions, our organizations. What’s needed when this happens is an “interrupt” to shock the collective system out of its lethargy.
Thinking about our marketing tactics and strategies, I think it’s fair to say we can get caught in our own stasis traps. We stick to our “tried and true” plans even when they no longer work. We mine the same groups of prospects even when that source has been tapped out. We keep funneling money into advertisements and telemarketing that no longer yield the kind of ROI they used to. Again, what we need is to have our thinking interrupted in order to short circuit the stasis.
Since the problem of routine stems from a sort of sleepwalking through our day, two of the best ways to interrupt routine is to be more aware and seek out what’s new. Here are a couple of ideas:
1. Head to your local bookseller or magazine rack at the grocery store and pick up a magazine you don’t typically read. Now look with your eyes wide open at everything you see. Notice the headlines, the ads, the articles. Look for ideas you can borrow in your own campaigns and messaging.
2. Go a store you wouldn’t normally visit. Don’t be afraid to get outside your comfort zone, too. Walk into a super-girly store like Claire’s Boutique or an uber-manly store like an Advance Auto Parts. Browse the aisles and really be aware of all you see. Take a notebook or voice recorder if it’ll help you gather your ideas.
What else? How do you keep your marketing ideas fresh?
photo credit: Collington (via Flickr)