At the top of my think topics list most of the time is Fitting Creative, the business I started in the basement of my home 16 years ago. Then, as now, it was enormously pleasurable to think about the possibilities. How big would we be? What services we would offer? To whom would we offer them? And how would we measure success?
The big difference is that when the business was tiny, I had plenty of time to dream.
Now that my business is substantial, the day-to-day activities, decisions, meetings, crises and paperwork leave little time for me to dream. In fact, as the stakes get higher, some of the dreams have turned to nightmares. The more people I employ, the more families that are dependent on my good judgment and leadership.
But thinking and dreaming about the big issues remains one of the highest-payoff activities I can do. The problem is, I have so many demands on my time, so many small things to think about and do, that I have to force myself to do the thing I love most.
So I've started to schedule ''think time,'' usually when I'm traveling or when I know I'll have an hour or more to wait somewhere -- assuming I'll be relatively uninterrupted. Sometimes, though, before I have that opportunity, I'll reach a psychological critical mass of putting out daily fires and need to hole up at home when everyone else is out.
I do some of my best thinking then and I usually return to the office feeling turbocharged about my new ideas. There's no feeling quite like having solved a big problem.
And when you figure out a problem, 10 other smaller things that have been driving you crazy fall into place.
What does this have to do with marketing? The best and most creative marketing ideas come from stepping back and thinking, mentally playing out various scenarios and letting ideas ripen.
I don't want to minimize the need for facts, figures, competitive intelligence, research results and other information. All are grist for the mill. But some of the best ideas and strategies I've come up with for clients happen when I go quietly into my own head and let the gray matter do its job.
So whether it's big marketing matters or other heady business issues that challenge you, pick a time and place that's just for you and focus your mind's eye on the global ball. Andrea Fitting is CEO of Fitting Creative, a Pittsburgh-based agency specializing in strategic marketing and breakthrough creative. Reach her at (412) 434-6934.