Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

The secret to creating like an artist

A copycat simply copies what he or she sees another person doing.

An artist takes elements from what they see and then builds it into something unique. This is commonly referred to today as a mashup.

Some successful mashups

  • Apple didn’t invent the first tablet computer. I owned a HP tablet device 7 years ago. It was horrible. What Apple did, was make a great tablet that people wanted to own, by mashing up the idea behind the original tablet devices, with their super successful iPhone.
  • I spent an evening with Nile Rodgers recently. He explained that when he created the lyrics for his International smash hit, Good Times, which is one of the most sampled tracks ever, he fused the lyrics from Al Jolson’s, About a quarter to nine with the lyrics to, Happy days are here again. He then used those old time tunes, to inspire him to write the words to one of the most influential tracks in modern music history.
  • In 1999 I listened to a talk by Professor Ian Angell, where he said that the advent of the global digital communications revolution, means we now (in 1999) own the equivalent of “the factory”, in the industrial revolution. This was before Seth Godin made the idea famous, with his unique mashup of the idea and amazing gift for words.

Creatively cutting through the noise

The tools we have available to us today, make it possible to reach and connect with more people than ever before. The opportunity is enormous, but to benefit from it, there’s a challenge we need to overcome.

The challenge is finding a way to cut through all the noise.

Noise? There are over 800 million people pumping information into Facebook. Hundreds of millions more pump information into services like Linkedin, Twitter and Google+. There are also tens of millions of blogs and then there are all those email marketing messages too.

To get your voice heard when so many other people have something to say, is a huge challenge for many businesspeople. However, it needn’t be!

The creator’s opportunity in a world of curators

One of the most common issues business owners come to me with, is that they find it hard to build awareness of their work or grow their networks. When you embrace the concept of mashing up YOUR influences and turning them into YOUR unique art, you become a creator, in a world full of curators.

This changes everything for you:

  • It gains you visibility.
  • It positions you in the mind of others, as someone with something original to say.  YOUR original mashup!
  • It increases your reach.
  • The increased reach and clearer positioning, combine to make more people aware of who YOU are and what YOU are all about.

There are millions of curators out there. I’m part curator myself, as anyone who connects with me on social networking sites can confirm. Most creators are curators but a tiny percentage of curators are creators. A curator is someone who actively looks for interesting ideas to share with their friends and networks. Curators especially value information that’s different in some way. They also like to share opinions and ideas, which come from a fresh perspective.

Mashups can be used to develop fresh ideas on anything

I wrote recently about the value of taking great ideas from outside your industry and mashing them up, into something unique for your business.

For example, I adapted an idea from the phone industry into my business. Years ago, I was offered a deal, where my contract would remain at the same fee, for as long as I kept that same contract rolling. As a result, I now pay the same tiny monthly bill for my phone calls and data that I paid in 2004! It’s pennies. I was so impressed, that since 2004, I have given the same amazing offer to all my Marketing Mentor clients. If they join me today, they will pay the same annual fee next year or in 5 years. Never a penny more. It works great for me and my clients love it too.

We can waste a lot of time waiting for the muse to arrive

Many great people waste years, waiting for inspiration to gift them a wholly original idea, inspired by no one and no thing. In my experience, there truly is nothing new under the sun. For example:

  • The Beatles were inspired by Buddy Holly and Elvis, among others.
  • The modern computer can be traced back over four and a half thousands years, to the abacus.
  • The building you are sitting in as you read this, will have architectural elements that date back centuries.
  • Britney Spears was inspired by Madonna, who was inspired by Debbie Harry, who was inspired by Marilyn Monroe…

A freaky way to create

We start to create after we allow ourselves the freedom to embrace what I call our inner freak.

I use the term inner freak to describe the unique mashup within our minds, of all the influences that have combined to make us who we are. This is one of the reasons why we need to be careful regarding the people and inputs we allow to influence us.

It’s a lot easier to create something of unique value, when we feed our mind with a nutritious diet of rich mental protein. Feeding it on the same junk food diet of reality TV and celebrity news, which the majority of the population digests, makes it far harder to create something unique. I’m convinced the reason I find it so easy to write fresh blog posts every day, is that I don’t watch TV and am extremely selective who/what I allow to influence my thinking.

Photo: Ganesha Isis

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  1. I will be thinking on this for a while. It is inevitable isn’t it? There really is no other route to any of us.
    I have honestly felt the tug of this idea you have posted.
    Thanks for this.
    And then on into the mash…

    • Hi Billy. You make an excellent point. I believe there is no other route.

      Even if someone locked them self in a cave, the cave would inspire them, right?

      Thanks for the feedback, sir.

  2. I agree with Billy. This may be one of your best posts to date Jim.

  3. Jim

    I like the expression that Tom Peters coined: “Distinct or Extinct.” What is so sorely lacking these days is the idea of reinvention (we can’t all be Seth). As Stephen Pressfield so eloquently describes in his wonderful book Do The Work (the follow up to The War of Art) the Resistance stops us from doing anything other than the unremarkable, predictable and mundane. Failure is not something as children we are taught to embrace. In fact we often get punished for it but failing, and failing faster, is the only way we will know what really burns our soul brightest, and inspires us to do our best work. It is ironic in many ways that in the worst of times we have at our fingertips the greatest opportunity.


  4. Someone said to me recently “Why don’t you make your blog look like all the other SEO websites?”


    The whole thing is that, whilst you use other examples as inspiration, you still need to produce something that makes you different and, therefore, memorable.

    That’s why Madonna was successful and others who just looked like Marilyn were not. Madonna adapted the idea to produce her own USP.

  5. Jim, This post was very inspirational. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” This may become my new favorite quote. Every person is unique, but not everyone embraces that uniqueness/inner freak. Those who do embrace it and nurture it become the creators and leaders. Those who suppress it become the followers.

    • Hey Misty. It’s important to embrace and nurture our uniqueness, rather than do what the masses do and try hard to blend in.

      That’s a bad idea, when trying to stand out.

      Thanks as always for the feedback, my friend.

  6. I have to admit that after reading the Steve Jobs biography, it seems to have been the basis for every Seth Goadin book I read.

    In the 2005 Jobs said ‘be foolish’
    In 2011 Goadin said ‘be weird’

    Tribes could have been written exclusively about what Jobs built around the cult of Apple. Linchpin is based on the same idea Apple used to hire its HO staff.

    The more I learn about Jobs, the less I value Goadin.

    • Hi Phil. Yes, I have heard people make similar pints about the similarity of what Jobs dad and what Seth says.

      However, if you look at what Steve Jobs did / said, which Seth also shared, you’ll see a major difference.

      Jobs’ role was to develop Apple and during interviews, he occasionally gave some insight into how way of thinking.

      Seth’s role is to get people thinking. He goes into ideas deeper and makes the, accessible.

      At least, that’s how I see it.

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