Forgetting mindfulness is a human failing, to be certain. But in creative marketing, it’s also a professional failing.
Creating content that is authentic, interesting and buzzing with meaning demands awareness of what you’re doing, a.k.a., mindfulness. Disinterest is contagious. If you don’t fully care about what you’re creating, how can you expect someone else to?
And this raises a fair question: What can all of us, as marketers, do to be more mindful in our work, especially when mindfulness feels like a luxury that we busy folks just can’t afford?
The truth is that the path to mindfulness is probably a little different for everyone. So rather than give you one view of mindfulness, we decided we’d ask our very own creative (and busy) marketers about it.
Here’s where that led us:
Question 1: What does mindfulness mean to you?
Wouldn’t it be cool if you had a 1,000-mile-high view of the many factors that influence your marketing campaigns – including a sense of your own limitations and the barriers that stand between you and your goals?
That’s what I think of when I think of mindfulness. And creativity is our response to those conditions – how we take what we’re aware of, and use it to achieve a goal. By that logic, mindfulness precedes every creative marketing solution.
[To me, mindfulness means] being thoughtful and deliberate, being conscious of the current moment.
But enough of my dizzying logic. Here’s what our creatives had to say:
Editorial: Writers are all about metacognition. Writing is a very cerebral art form that demands a well-curated and controlled headspace.
- “Mindfulness, to me, means awareness of the ways I’m functioning and thinking, rather than being so trapped in my thought processes.”
- “The acute awareness of my thoughts and feelings detached from objectives and outcomes.”
Design: Designers just want to be left alone to do their work in peace.
- “Limited distraction and multitasking, for the sake of focus[ing] on a single feeling or experience.”
- “I think of meditation.”
Video: For videographers, mindfulness is deliberate and zen.
- “Putting extra thought into your actions. The word makes me think of meditation.”
Social: Social folks are a mixed bag of all good things, and the first response is exactly the type of answer you’d expect from someone whose job is to carefully craft content and then measure the outcome.
- “Being thoughtful before you act and reflective after.”
- “Mindfulness to me means focusing on the present, meditating, relaxing, decluttering your mind.”
- “Being aware of something, in this case, the creative process.”
Favorite answer: “Something my happy friends do.”
Question 2: Mindfulness strategies: What are some tips and tricks for achieving mindfulness?
As expected, we got a fairly wide range of responses on this one. But there aren’t any wrong answers here.
[I achieve mindfulness by] focusing narrowly, only on the individual project, taking breaks occasionally to process what’s been written and then revisiting it.
The right answer is whichever one gets you the results you need. Here’s how our marketers put themselves in a mindset that helps them get the results they need:
Editorial: Tunnel vision and concentration are key.
- “Try to minimize external distractions, often with music (which can sometimes be a distraction itself).”
- “Focusing narrowly, only on the individual project, taking breaks occasionally to process what’s been written and then revisiting it.”
Design: Curiously, several designers said they need the right audio to complement their visuals.
- “I suppose that choosing appropriate music or other suitable audio helps me focus on my design process. It’s tough to allow the indulgence of checking-in with yourself when you are deep in focus and trying to finish work on time.”
Social: Losing oneself in inspiration is one of the best ways to discover mindfulness.
- “I think about a brand that gets me excited and then use that enthusiasm toward the brand I am working on. I try to have creative confidence, not holding back.”
Favorite answer: “None. No time.”
Question 3: What’s your favorite type of content to create?
Good on you if you said whichever type of content fulfills commercial goals. That’s why we do this thing called marketing.
It really depends on the client and goal of the content as opposed to the type – it all ends up being written words, specifics aside.
Still, there’s many different types of content involved in generating traffic and driving leads deeper into the sales funnel. And as marketers, we all have our preferences. Here are some of ours:
Editorial: Blog posts. This isn’t hugely surprising. Blog posts are a little more dressed-down and leave room for voiciness and creative hijinks that white papers and eBooks would turn their noses up at.
Design: Illustrated graphics. They’re fun, creative and far more interesting than slightly altered stock photography. What’s not to love?
Social: Split between contests, images and videos, with the latter two taking the lion’s share. (Way to leave copy out in the cold, social.)
Video: Motion graphics, specifically with characters and a narrative.
Favorite answer: “It all ends up being written words,” (said one wry writer).
Question 4: How do you get into a creative mindset?
Creativity can be coy and fickle. It’s here one second and gone the next, often for reasons we don’t entirely understand. The elusiveness can make topic ideation and the nuanced decisions that go into asset creation feel like uphill struggles.
There are no tools or tricks that can get you in a creative mindset if you’re in a creative block, but I find that brainstorming with others to be of huge help!
Sometimes the best you can do is be mindful of the conditions that creativity favors, and use that as your beacon. Here’s what our creatives had to say about that:
Editorial: Even when you already have a topic to write about, a blank page is intimidating. Give yourself a mental, or perhaps a written, compass of sorts.
- “Planning an article out, labeling the sections before I write them and giving myself some limits and guidelines helps the content flow more naturally once I get to the actual writing.”
- “Thinking about the topic from a very simple or high level, then drilling down more into the specifics of the project. Reading other writing that has a similar intent.”
Design: Again with the audio …
- “Listening to comedy podcasts.” (Definitely the most unexpected answer.)
- “Doing a little research on the client helps get my mind where it needs to be, and I like to check out Pinterest or Dribbble for additional inspiration (colors, styles, formatting & organization etc.). Music helps too!”
Social: Meanwhile, social strategists are very visually inspired.
- “Creating graphic design notebooks! I love to take pages out of magazines, save them in a binder and look at them later for inspiration!”
- “Being able to visualize the end result.”
Video: Collaborating with others is definitely a great way to get outside of your own head.
- “There are no tools or tricks that can get you in a creative mindset if you’re in a creative block, but I find that brainstorming with others to be of huge help!”
Favorite answer: Tie between “not having meetings” and “coffee, enough sleep.”
Question 5: Where do you start when creating content?
Inertia isn’t just a physics problem. Creatives deal with it all the time as they try to get projects off the ground.
I start by considering the audience, context, and purpose of the asset I’m creating. Then I develop a skeleton that will give form to all the information I need to assemble.
Picking the right starting point isn’t always easy, but our content creators have a few tried-and-true techniques for liftoff:
Editorial: Researching and then creating section headers – but not outlines – as a rough guide for content creation was the clear consensus here. And I’d agree. It’s enough structure to keep you on the rails without confining your creativity.
Design: Answers varied here, but this response was insightful and instructive: “Most content needs a strong header or entry, so I tend to focus on establishing a color palette and a ‘style’ that I like, then move onto the header image or ‘hero’ illustration before making my way down. After that, structural elements are placed to ground the piece of content, and then illustration/decoration/data comes last.”
Video: “I like to read the entire script first, then break it down to scene by scene. After the entire script is inside Adobe Illustrator, I like to go over the client branding to get familiar with their look & feel. Next I like to create super rough sketches just using my mouse so I know what will happen in each scene. Finally, I flesh out the finished storyboard with vectors. As I storyboard I also think about how things will move so when I’m in the animation stage I don’t start at 0.”
Social: The social media team is very goal-oriented. For instance, they advised us to “Start with a rough idea of what the end result needs to be.”
Favorite answer: “Sometimes in the middle.”
Question 6: How are you mindful of brand messaging?
A brand is a multisensory experience, and the more time you take to define the nuances of that experience, the stronger your business’s identity becomes.
I always open up the clients website when working on their brand. Even if I have seen it a hundred times.
Whether you’re creating content for just one brand, or you’re like us – and you’re constantly bouncing between them – it’s critical that you keep your mind’s eye locked on the verbal, visual and audio aspects of brand identity.
Here are our creatives saying as much, as they explain their tactics for being mindful of branding:
- “Immersing myself in the core values that drive its customer-facing communications.”
- “Always have their URL pulled up so that you can mimic their messaging and remain on brand. This also allows you to quickly find backlink opportunities.”
- “I find that reading and watching some client materials is usually enough of an introduction to allow me to imitate that brand’s voice, at least as a starting point.”
- “I look at their branding and I look at their previous work if they’ve been with us for a while. I also look at their website because sometimes the brand guidelines are older and they’ve shifted their look a little bit.”
- “I constantly compare and contrast what I create against in-house assets.”
- “I always open up the clients website when working on their brand. Even if I have seen it a hundred times. It helps me focus on who they are.”
- “If we haven’t created any work for them, I try to find something they already have on their site or social media. I can’t start a new project without familiarizing myself with the client’s brand.”
Favorite answer: All of them.
Question 7: What about you?
Marketing directors, content strategists, content editors, bloggers, social media managers, business owners, influencers, what have you – we want to hear a bit about how you approach mindfulness in marketing day in and day out, and some of your creative tactics.
So if you’re not too busy trying to be more mindful – and you’re in no hurry to get back to work – feel free to share your comments below.