Add up all the numbers from 1 to 100 quick as you can, all in your head. Or cut a cake into eight pieces with just 3 cuts. It’s not something you’re asked to do every day so it might take a few minutes to decide on a good approach. Answers are at the end by the way. Thinking laterally is a great way to make your marketing stand out and make sure you don’t get bored too. Here are a few resources to help you exercise your grey matter and brighten up your reflexes into the bargain.
Encourage your brain to think laterally
I’ve just discovered Shane Snow’s lateral thinking blog and writing, including his Smartcuts book. Love the simplicity of his writing and the idea that lateral thinking is something we can all encourage our brains to do. His lateral thinking crib sheet is worth checking out too, you’ll need to sign up for that. He talks about looking at a problem from another perspective – what if there were no risks, how about if you went backwards in time or borrowed thinking from another industry in what – and even, what would an expert do (do the opposite).
Apply it to social media and you’ll soon be responding to a notification on Twitter with a video to make your interaction more personal and less prone to interpretation. Plus, who doesn’t get bored of emojis and gifs every so often? Win win.
Realise when we are thinking
One of the lateral thinkers I always go back to is Sherlock Holmes. And I found a brilliant book called Mastermind: how to think like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova a couple of years ago which is fabulous. Konnikova reminds us that our thinking can simply become automatic so we don’t solve or discover anything new:
Because our habits have become invisible to us, we are no longer learning actively and it doesn’t seem nearly as hard to think well as it once did, we tend to forget how difficult the process once was.
For me this translates in your marketing to doing your engagement with your network at a time when your energy levels are good and you are stimulated by your environment. Netwalks Scotland are a good example of folk learning to do this, or you could simply be making your routine for making a Facebook Live or blog at 7am when you are at your freshest…
Learn from others
It can be difficult to break out of our own mindset and learn from what others do. So here’s a couple of ways to get your creative juices flowing. Think like a toddler (look at even how they stand up from sitting on the floor!), join a networking group to practice active listening and keep your learning muscles in training by doing a course every so often. I can recommend coursera for free and inspiring courses from prestigious universities and other organisations on a massive range of subjects. You can pay to get the course accredited but there is no requirement to and the wonderful thing about a number of the courses is the interaction with other students from around the world that is required as part of the course to help you reflect, challenge and cement your learning.
I’m constantly inspired by others on social media and how they use the various channels to their advantage. Last week I found some beautiful examples of storytelling using Twitter, taking the reader right along with the tweeter on their journey because of the immediacy that Twitter lets you share the moment with your followers. Here’s a Twitter story from @gawanmac where the tale is simply about walking on an OS map but it is definitely made into a story through the medium combined with the structuring, language and detail included. Gorgeous. So yes, learn from behind the scenes stories on your business doing well for others – but it’s the story and complexity folk love. So tease them… Happy marketing.
Adding up 1 to 100 – simply add each pair, 1 and 99, 2 and 98, 3 and 97. Notice a pattern about the results of each of these sums? OK you can just do 100×50 and there you go.
Cutting the cake – not a complicated one but annoying if you can’t quite get it. Cut it twice vertically (12 to 6 o’clock then 9 to 3 o’clock) then once horizontally. Love to hear about any headscratchers you know that will test all our grey matter.