In tenth grade, my English teacher gave the class an interesting proposition: We had the choice to substitute the regular final exam with something different.
Something really different.
Specifically, we had to do something we’d never done before. Something challenging. Something scary. Something we could show and tell.
I remember vividly the way our teacher told us about all of the things in life we’d have to do something for the first time, and that we should get used to the fear or uncertainty that comes with trying something new.
I did an original oil painting of our family dog, a little poodle named Pierre.
It was literally one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. I have no talent when it comes to painting or drawing. Nor do I really have any interest. None. And, the experience didn’t improve either; I had no more talent or interest when I finished than when I started.
That wasn’t the point. The point was that I did something that I had never done before -- something I had never thought about doing before. And, you know what? It wasn’t half bad. I got an A (I’m sure it was mostly an “A for Effort” sort of thing, but I took the grade anyway). It helped me make the honor roll that semester.
So, what’s my point here?
It’s so easy for any of us to get stuck in a rut. It’s so easy for us to keep using tried-and-true methods. It’s so easy for us to keep doing what we are already good at.
But, I’ve learned in the years after high school that good marketing is like my tenth grade English class: it isn’t static. Rather, it’s a dynamic mix of great ideas that attract your audience continually, over and over again. Good marketing can’t stay the same because then it wouldn’t work anymore. By nature, good marketing is experimental and dynamic, changing as our targets’ lives change and the nature of the marketplace changes.
It’s our job as marketers to keep up with that change, which means we’re forever doing things we’ve never done before. Here are a few tips to help you branch out in your own marketing strategy:
1. Talk to your customers
Good marketing begins and ends with your customers, and most marketers don’t talk to them enough. The customers’ lives and their needs are always changing, and you need to keep up. If you have too many to talk to individually, then hold focus groups and do surveys. How you react to that information will force you into new marketing techniques to keep your customers coming back.
2. Try new forms of media
There are always new ways to reach customers, and many of them are unfamiliar at first. The only way to really get to know these new techniques is to do a little research and then jump in. Study up to see if a particularly new media form will actually help you accomplish your goals before fully committing -- dip your toe in the water before jumping into the deep end.
3. Create new types of content
Your social media channels need to be fed constantly to keep your community engaged. It’s an exhausting job that demands new and different kinds of content on a regular basis. Experiment with new forms like short-form video or animated gifs to see if they’ll spark more engagement. If they don’t, then try something new again.
I’m sure you can think of dozens of other ways to keep your marketing platform fresh without my help, but keep yourself inspired and motivated to come up with something new every day.
How do I stay motivated to keep experimenting? I kept that oil painting of my family dog, and it hangs in my office as a constant reminder.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.