Yikes! My mind is blank, and my marketing deadline is looming… what now?

Let’s face it; no one is on top of the game all the time. Sometimes it’s a daunting task even just trying to figure out where to start at all, from figuring out what’s for dinner all the way up to pulling off a critical presentation. But no pressure, right?

Marketing is no exception. From time to time, even experienced marketers have situations where they’re facing a rapidly approaching deadline, and just have to get that next campaign (or blog post… ahem) out. No exceptions. No extensions. It’s just gotta be done. But our minds are… blank.

Beating mental gridlock to write great content

Especially for those of us producing content for a content marketing program, the question comes up again and again: how do we get out of what I like to call mental gridlock?

I’ve found several tricks over the years that never fail to get me started:

  1. Just start writing something. It doesn’t have to be remotely close to on-topic, sometimes the act of simply beginning the creation process is enough to jump-start things. Even if you don’t end up using it, hold on to the stuff you write in a folder somewhere. In the future, the not-so-relevant stuff may be exactly what you’re looking for. 
  2. Find something you can re-use. I could probably create a whole post (or series of posts) on this topic, but sometimes the simplest thing to do is to resort to the “greatest hits” approach. Have an ad that’s produced results in the past? Change the date and run it again! Have a blog post you put up a year ago that covered a highly relevant topic? Lightly edit it and re-run it! Re-running marketing content is totally OK. (And no, that’s not what I did for this blog. But feel free to scroll through the Urban Sherpa Guideposts; there’s lots of great stuff in there…) 
  3. Google it. Searching for things like “I need a great marketing promotion” or “Blog Post Ideas” can sometimes surface articles and ideas that will get your creative juices flowing and that you can adapt and build from. Just be careful not to directly steal material or plagiarize. 
  4. Go for a run/drive/golf/shopping/anything not related to marketing. Sometimes when my mind is focused on something far removed from work, amazing things pop into my head. Pro tip: mowing the grass is great for this. 
  5. Meditate. Put on some relaxing music, get comfy, focus on the breath, and float away on a mini spiritual sabbatical. This is sometimes hard to do when you’re facing an imminent deadline, but shutting the world out for even 5 or 10 minutes and getting centered can help you start moving in the right direction.

Why do we get so stuck when it comes to marketing?

There are probably a bunch of reasons people end up gridlocked mentally when it comes to writing marketing content or creating ad copy. In the interest of keeping this blog to a reasonably sane length, I’m going to call out just two seriously misguided beliefs that can slow us down:

  • Your audience/customers are paying rapt attention to your every move and will KNOW if you are editing and reusing content or repeating things they’ve heard before. The sad truth for all of us is that no one is paying that much attention. In fact, there’s a lot to be said for the power of repeating particularly important concepts and value propositions, multiple times and in multiple different places. And if someone calls you out on it, great; you’ll know at least one person is an avid follower. 
  • Everything we do as marketers needs to be well-thought out, planned to within an inch of its life, and edited to PERFECTION. The bottom line is that life moves fast; by the time you’ve put together the perfect campaign (or perfect blog post), the moment has passed and you’ve missed out on multiple opportunities to talk to your target audience. Getting SOMETHING out that’s 51% ideal beats shooting for that elusive 100% perfect post and delivering NOTHING. Every time. Get something out, and if it’s not awesome, do better next time. 

Now, in the interest of best practices, it’s about time to wrap this up. Plus, deadlines, you know!

Happy Small Business Marketing,

Theron and Katie

P.S. Bonus 6th method to get things moving: drink lots and lots of black coffee.

At Urban Sherpa Marketing Co. we offer marketing advisory, strategic planning, and services for small businesses and startups, including content marketing. Our goal is to make high-quality marketing possible for every business, no matter the size. Think of us as your outsourced marketing department, strategic marketing adviser, or even your phone-a-friend marketing lifeline.

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