How an over active imagination can help your business, and save your life.
I have an over active imagination. That's part of why I enjoy so much Science Fiction and Fantasy, but it also means I think about things to the point of over thinking. I will start to imagine how a conversation is going to go and before I know it, I'm having a full-fledge argument in my mind. While that kind of worry and anxiety is stressful and a sin, there are definitely some benefits to having an over active imagination that can be applied to your business and marketing.
Descent from the Overlook
Last week I took my family to see the Grand Canyon. We were on our way to LA for family business but decided we couldn't drive through Arizona without making this side trip. The southern rim is just 80 miles north of the highway. I won't go on and on here about how inspiring the site is (perhaps in another blog). Instead, I'm going to tell you about what happened after we saw the Grand Canyon.
We had arrived at the top just before sunset and had just moments to take it all in. It was raining a little bit and was quite windy, chilling me through my sport coat and causing my eyes to water. By the time we got back into the car and began our descent, it was already nearly dark.
Now, the thing you need to understand about this area is that there is no power. Highway 65 loops down along a 50 mile stretch where the road is just two lanes and the trees grow right up to the road. As you leave the Grand Canyon, and as the 45 mph highway is bending left and right, you are presented first with a Deer Crossing sign, then an Elk Crossing sign, followed by a Mountain Lion sign. I guess the other wild animals know not to cross the road.
So, as I was driving, I was paying close attention to the sides of the road. With the close trees I knew I wouldn't get much warning from an animal, so I was more vigilant than usual, to the point where my neck and shoulders ached from the tense activity.
I lived the first part of my life in Ohio where deer are particularly common. I learned early on that if I pay attention and use my peripheral vision properly, I could spot a deer or other animal moving well before they got close to the road. I understood that driving well over the speed limit might only shave a few minutes off my travel time, but would dramatically reduce my ability to react in time. I also trained myself to watch for the reflection of light in animal's eyes. When asked once how I can tell the difference between an animal and roadside reflectors, I said that unless you've somehow found yourself on the set of Jurassic Park, animal eyes are going to be much smaller.
Why did I bother to go to all that trouble? Because of my over active imagination. At some point when I was younger and started to drive, I imagined what would happen if I hit a deer. I will spare you the details, but I gave thought to every aspect of that frightening possibility, including what I might have to do if I critically injured, but did not kill, a deer or other animal. I was determined to avoid that if at all possible.
So, when a herd of elk ran across the road just yards ahead of me, I was scared but ready.
Because I had been paying attention, I saw them as soon as the first elk broke out of the woods to my left. Because I had already decided years ago to grip the wheel firmly, apply my brakes, and avoid swerving, I maintained control of my car even as two of the elk ran across the road and passed in front of my car, missing me by inches. Because of my imagination and preparation, I was able to guide the car through the herd and watch as a third elk passed safely behind my car.
Had I swerved to avoid the first animal, and had I been driving as fast as others on that road that night, the results could have been fatal. My imagination had prepared me for a moment just like that. Being able to use your imagination in your business can be just as critical. When it comes to Internet Marketing, the areas of Search Engine Optimization, Social Media and Blogging can all benefit.
Search Engine Optimization
When it comes to optimizing your website for search engines, a business needs to be able to identify what potential keyword phrases their targeted clients might be using in Google, Bing or Yahoo. That means that you must be able to imagine what your customers are going to search for and how they're going to use Google.
Yes, there are tools you can use like Google's keywords tool which can help you refine and analyze your keywords and options, but you must be able to identify some phrases yourself initially, and use your imagination to come up with alternatives and variances.
Social Media Activity
In order to be successful on social networks, businesses need more than a great profile and awesome graphics (though those are definitely good things to have). You need to be active on the major networks - for most businesses that's Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ - and it helps to have an imagination. Successful posts are creative, inspired, helpful, funny, interesting, timely, or some combination of those.
A great imagination might help you run a popular contest, create a great video, or maybe just ask a compelling question. Social Media is about engaging others and participating in larger discussions, and these will not likely center around specific products or services that you offer
What do you blog about? I often sit down with my clients and hold blog topic brainstorming sessions. While it's great to blog about topics or events that are current, what if there's nothing going at this moment? Whomever is in charge of blogging for your content marketing campaign should have a great list of topics to write on so that the only decision initially is which one.
So, this is where having that great imagination can come in. What will your clients and audience actually be interested in reading? What will YOU be interested in writing about? That question may be a lot more important than you think.
Do you feel like you have an active imagination? Do you ever find yourself imagining entire conversations? Can you see where an imagination might help these aspects of Internet Marketing?
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."