How to Find (and Never Run Out of) Inspiration with @SimonCox #vcbuzz

Technical SEO Twitter Chat with @SimonCox #vcbuzz

Inspiration is a huge part of digital marketing.

In fact, even now that online visibility is becoming a huge focus of marketing strategies, inspiration and creativity can still win over big budgets.

But how to find inspiration? Where does it come from and how you can get more?

Let’s discuss!

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About @SimonCox

@SimonCox is a Technical SEO (search engine optimisation consultant), web standards evangelist, content management specialist, amateur bread baker, member of the LondonEErs ExpressionEngine Group and a founding member of the Croydon Creatives social group.

He has been practicing Search Engine Optimisation since the late 1990’s when Alta Vista took notice of meta keywords -this was before Google started up! How things have changed over the years!

Questions we are going to discuss

Q1 How did you become a digital marketer? Please share your career story!

I did Technical Illustration and Graphic design at art college —wild times – then freelance layout for print (because that was where it was happening for me!) – this was all pre digital.

I taught myself to use QuarkXpress on the Mac in ’89 at a small PR firm to make my job easier. When that shut down I moved to London where I was quickly headhunted by a High Street Bank – not may people using QuarkXpress in 1990.

Desktop publishing is such a dirty word these days but at the time being able to produce professional level artwork digitally was groundbreaking.

In 95 I built my first website and managed part of Midland Banks website in my ‘spare time’. In ’99 after 9 years of print production I took on the role of building and running full time.

I was inspired to do that by a boss that did not like coleslaw on her baked potato. Long story, and I hope she sought help and has recovered, but it was the push I needed to move into the web full time. And the right job at the right time came up.

I ran for 13 years then was able to build an SEO and metrics team – because we desperately needed one!

So most of my career has been spent in marketing teams – at times very high pressure. The inspiration to explore digital has derived from many sources.

Q2 Why is inspiration so important in digital marketing? Isn’t it all just about numbers and signals? 🙂

Data is always important but how you interpret it does need consideration and you hone that with experience. Ideas can be transferred between scenarios and circumstances so you must keep learning.

When Google maps started to take off I suggested to the head of Marketing at HSBC that we put a huge logo on the roof of the HSBC tower so it would get picked up on the satellite images – free brand advertising. Wasn’t feasible in the end.

Standing still in digital marketing is a death sentence. It has always been this way but before digital was a lot slower! Having one idea is good but having 100 and picking the best is much better.

Over the years there have been some outstanding ideas that seem to have come out of Audiences are delighted by new things that stimulate them – rather then the same old stuff or disingenuous marketing.

Brands though are very conservative with ideas and prefer evolution rather then revolution. You can work within limits – it’s easier to to work within the confines of a brief than not have a detailed one.

However that should not stop you coming up with ideas that are outside the brief – they will inspire further ideas that fit in the brief. Just don’t over do it!

Q3 How to find inspiration, no matter what you do?

I take myself out of my comfort zone, put myself in situations where I am all at sea that way I learn new perspectives, new angles, new passions.

I have always had an insatiable desire to understand how things work. I will take things to pieces while your back is turned. That’s why I enjoy Technical SEO so much.

I find typography very inspiring. From when I got my first Letraset catalogue (Rubdown instant lettering) as a 10 year old I have been fascinated how type works, how it conveys message and feeling in people.

A typeface can inspire so much – show someone a typeface and they can usually guess the brand.

The old adage ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’ is about judgement but is a great way to think about your target audience. It is why building out personas helps you think like a customer and that can inspire you to think an issue through differently.

Q4 How to always feel inspired?

I’m not sure you can to be honest. It can be draining. However I focus on the things that I’m interested in – that’s not always worked in full time employment – but while I wore a suit (a rather good one) I wasn’t a ‘suit’ – more of a free thinker

Alternate views on things should be encouraged – and are more these days. It’s also a team thing. I was given the opportunity to build several teams and always chose people for their passion as it took them to interesting places that

I do recommend getting out into nature a lot, walk, cycle, picnic but I’m always inspired by nature. Also museums and old stuff and history on how people invented things. It’s all inspirational!

And of course art – art can be really inspiring in all its forms. get out there and soak some in. Doesn’t have to be ‘ketchup’ art (oil paintings etc) can be craftsmanship in all walks of like.

Q5 What are your favorite digital marketing tools? Especially those that help in getting inspired?

I use SimpleMind on the Mac – a mind-mapping tool and i just throw ideas into it and join them up. Later if I have more ideas I can go back to that and flesh out the mind-map further.

It really helps fill the gaps as I can focus in on areas and get really detailed if needs be and that can spark further ideas.

Really old school but an A3 pad and a 0.7mm drawing pen to sketch out ideas is brilliant It’s the fastest way to get ideas down on paper, sketches, words, ideas joined up with lines – real freedom.

Books – old fashioned paper ones!
Any books – they will stir your imagination! Just read!
Don’t make me think – Steve Krug is one of my favourites – it really makes you think!

I find music very inspiring. Not anything in particular but the right piece at the right time is dynamite. Once coded a website in a weekend playing Prodigy albums on repeat. Hardly any sleep but got stuff done!

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