According to a 2010 study, humans will spend 46.9% of their life “mind-wandering”—meaning we are spending half our life on autopilot. Routine is an innate safety response. Humans live in this preprogrammed life because that is how our ancestors learned to stay alive. Do the same thing, go to the same place, talk to the same people – it amounts to our survival skills.
Recently, I have had the pleasure of finishing a couple of books and attending a few conferences that revolve around breaking free of our predictability and finding a new way of living and thinking. Interestingly enough, all the authors had the same theme: autopilot is the single-most killer of innovation.
Looking at recent campaigns and reading about new trends, it is obvious this concept rings true throughout the advertising industry. Routine is damaging the creativity that the advertising industry has long thrived on.
We can reignite our creative spark by adapting and changing our ideas. Here are a few ways I have learned to begin that process:
Questions + Association:
In The Innovator’s DNA, the authors interview 100’s of the world’s most innovative CEO’s and found five skills that all of them strongly possess. The two that I believe suffer the most from our daily routine (especially for the advertising world) are:
- Being able to ask good questions
- The ability to create associations between two different ideas.
When we live in autopilot every day, our senses soon decay and loose the ability to analyze the world around us. In our industry, it is so important to be able to see how industries are working and cross-reference those processes with customer trends.
A good example from the above-mentioned book is Ikea. While transporting loads of furniture for a photo shoot, their marketing manager came up with their well-known knockdown kit that revolutionized how furniture was bought, shipped and assembled. This person was able to question the company’s current processes and associate that customers would be willing to put together furniture if they got to save on shipping costs.
One way to introduce more questioning into your daily routine is the five-ways process that the book’s authors outline. The process is used by companies like Amazon and essentially put in place a system to help break down a long-held process and spark revolution. The trick is to ask why five times. Here is an example of how to use it for your client’s next problem:
Question 1: Why aren’t customer’s buying our clients new milk product?
Answer 1: Because it is being pushed to the back of the fridge
Question 2: Why is it being pushed to the back of the fridge?
Answer 2: Because of the competition
Question 3: Why is the competition getting more space than us?
Answer 3: Because their product is selling more
Question 4: Why is their product selling more?
Answer 4: Because their price is competitive
Question 5: Why is their pricing better than ours?
Answer 5: Because of our suppliers
This exercise would help your client understand that they may need to find a new supplier who’s more cost competitive, or maybe they need a different target audience.
Law of Vibration:
You have probably heard about the law of attraction; a force whereupon “like attracts like.” Meaning, if you have a positive attitude, you will attract other positive things.
The Law of Vibration is a sister to this same concept. I was lucky enough to have the author of You Can’t Escape from a Prison if You Don’t Know You’re in One, Alena Chapman, explain this concept in person during her Thrive event in Fort Wayne. In short, the Law of Vibration theorizes all matter, thoughts and feelings have a vibration frequency. This means when your thoughts are on a positive frequency, they can receive other positive thoughts because our minds are already on similar levels.
Now, what does this have to do with advertising? As we know, when we are in autopilot, we aren’t perceiving the world around us. Our subconscious and conscious decisions are what feed our vibrations and those frequencies decide our actions and results. Therefore, if we aren’t learning something new and positive each day, we can’t sustain a positive, engaging level of vibration. This leads to negative actions over time.
One of the most powerful exercises Alena suggests is to create a space where you can think and recharge. This could be anywhere from your backyard to your couch. The only requirements:
- It makes you happy
- It is relatively quiet and distraction-free
This is your time to let your consciousness wander and be creative. You can use a writing prompt and journal whatever comes to mind, or just close your eyes and meditate. It will amaze you what ideas you come up with next. No, they probably won’t be about your client’s big project, and they shouldn’t be; this is your time to unwind and focus on your aspirations. But by doing this, you will begin:
- Thinking in a new way
- Dig yourself out of autopilot
- Aid you in approaching a situation differently
So how can we use these concepts start an advertising renaissance?
- Begin your day with positive thoughts
- Question even the most basic processes
- Use association to uncover new ideas
- Use your inspirational space to change the way you perceive and think
- Use the Law of Vibration to channel only positive things
And then, take a step back and brace yourself for the creativity that comes next.