Can marketing be more fun?

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I recently had a chance to collaborate with an illustrator. He’s somebody I had a lot of fun working with, and one of the big reasons why I wanted to work with him is because his artwork uses a playful, whimsical feel to start challenging and complex conversations.

The longer we worked together, the more I came to appreciate his creative process. As we sat down in front of a computer to sketch out concepts, I saw him enter a mode where he was his most creative self while having the most fun. The more he enjoyed his work, the better it got.

There’s nothing so unusual about that. Sports fans might notice that some athletes perform better when they’re loose and comfortable, remembering that they play for a living. As a general trend, we tend to do better at things as we enjoy them.

That dynamic expands into the realm of nonprofit work, startup operations, and marketing as well.

Think about the sorts of activities you truly enjoy. The ones that make you lose track of time. Is it lettering? Networking with people? Web design? Because there’s a strong likelihood that you have the ability to do that thing well and it can probably be applied to marketing a cause driven brand.

In professional business culture, there tends to be skepticism towards the idea of enjoying your work too much. There’s an expectation that work and play are two different activities, and the latter is reserved for weekends and off hours.

The truth is that if we don’t at least take a shot at trying to apply an activity we genuinely enjoy to our organizational goals, then we run the risk of missing out on our best work. If my illustrator friend felt guilty every time he had fun on the job, his best pieces would have never come into existence.

I’m not suggesting to exclusively do the things you enjoy as your workload. Every job, even the dreamiest dream job, will consist of things you get to do and things you have to do. But I am advising you to be more open to exploring your passions and interests and seeing where those can be relevant to your organization’s needs.

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The fun part about the world of marketing and branding is that it constantly evolves. There are so many different types of activities that apply to the overall goal of increasing brand awareness that you have lots of opportunities to try different things. One season of growth might be doubling down on social media. Another time might call for you to show up at a bunch of conferences. Another might call you to take a step back and look at strategy.

So how do you decide what to focus on next?

There are a few different ways. Look at numbers, marketing analytics, and see what they suggest. Look at your strategic plan and think of what will get you closer to your short term goals.

And then also consider what seems fun and ripe for you to dive into.

Because your organization needs you to be the most creative, innovative, energized version of yourself, and that’s also true for each member of your team. And one of the best ways to do that is to find ways to use the activities that you are naturally drawn to to help the organization in some way.

With that said, here’s a suggested process for figuring out how to make work and marketing more fun.

1) Check in with yourself.

Ask what sorts of activities seem legitimately fun. And be open to writing everything down. Aim for a pretty long list. Maybe 20-30 things. What activities could you totally lose yourself in right now?

2) Think about the organization.

What are it’s biggest needs right now? What things does it need to accomplish in the next three months to get where it wants to be in a year? What about in five years? Again, make a list of important short term objectives. Maybe five or six of these.

3) Now you get to connect the dots!

Which of the things on your list seem to go hand in hand with the organization’s needs? Because with the two lists you just made there will most likely be a few things that connect.

If you can make some of your work consist of the type of thing that you can’t help but do, get ready for some exciting results.



Philippe Lazaro