How to Stay Creative in a Concrete World of Marketing


I’ll never forget the day I stumbled upon my favorite local coffee shop. Not only did they have a delectable selection of fresh-brewed coffee offered in a cozy café setting, but they also had some of the best ad copy I’ve ever seen to date. No, they aren’t Starbucks (not that there is anything wrong with the corporate coffee gurus) nor are they any other major coffee company, like Dunkin Donuts or Caribou.

In fact, I can almost guarantee you’ve never heard of them. They are strictly local to my city of residence and only operate a handful of shops. Their entire annual marketing budget is probably the same size as Starbucks’ marketing budget on any given day of the week. Can you say small business?

So, what’s special about this coffee shop and their ad copy?

The real key to this local coffee company’s advertising, the key that keeps me coming back time and time again and makes me choose them over other, more notorious coffee shops, is none other than the most basic notion of marketing: creativity.

Making a Case for Creativity

The first time I walked into that coffee shop, I looked to my left and a row of signs immediately caught my eye. Not because they were particularly colorful or shapely, but because they appeared to be unique, weren’t too wordy and they had strategic brand messaging that stood out. I was mesmerized.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of those signs. I read every word. And every word I read seemed to get better and better. I saw words like “antioxidants,” “accuracy” and “purity” in relation to coffee, which both excited me and startled me into paying more attention. This was something I hadn’t seen before. It wasn’t the typical coffee-copy.

Whereas big brands might bombard you with large signs stating their well-known names and other colorful antics, smaller brands and small businesses must get creative in order to expect any real success with their marketing.

It’s the nature of the beast. The smaller your business is, the more success you will enjoy when your marketing is creative, strategic and above all, unique.

You can’t rely on having a big name brand sell your products or services when you’re a small business; you have to find a creative way to tell your story that gets people’s attention…and keeps it.

Now that we’ve made a strong case for creativity in small business marketing, let’s tackle HOW we stay creative in a world that seems to be chock full of boring ads with even more boring copy.

How to Keep Your Copywriting Creative

How do you craft your marketing messages? If your answer is anything other than “Hire a copywriter,” you’re probably doing it wrong. Granted, writers are not the be-all-end-all when it comes to developing a marketing strategy. But, they are the people who will tell your story in a way that gets the attention of your target market. If you haven’t done so already, do yourself and your marketing department a favor and hire a copywriter.

I search for inspiration everywhere. Why? Because I never know when or how I’ll become inspired to write that next stellar blog article or great clip of web content.

Inspiration may come in the form of a popular blog article or a hit TV show. It could be waiting at your local coffee shop, or even on the back of your shampoo bottle. Inspiration can come in many forms, but if you’re a copywriter, one thing is certain: you need constant inspiration.

Every writer can encounter a bit of writer’s block. Whether you write novels or banner ads for a living, you need new and interesting things to look at, read and consider in order to refresh and renew your own, personal creative stew.

Below we list a few ingenious places that copywriters can look to keep their creative juices flowing, and thus deliver top-notch blog articles, web pages or ad copy for the respective small businesses they work for.

  • Flavor Descriptions from Ben & Jerry’s: as HubSpot points out, “The tone of each flavor description is perfectly on-brand and the word choice is out of this world.”
  • J. Peterman Product Descriptions: if you’ve never read a J. Peterman Company clothing description, you are most certainly missing out.
  • Ads: see these little nuggets of funny if you’re uncertain how to creatively combine terms like “unicorn,” “twerking” and “siracha.”
  • The Oatmeal Cartoons (and blog): The Oatmeal is pretty much written for people who spend a great deal of their time online (like web copywriters!).
  • Boston Red Sox Emails: You’re thinking, “Of course the Red Sox!” But on the contrary, the average copywriter probably wouldn’t give the Sox a second thought, until they read their carefully crafted and heartwarming words.

Never underestimate the power of good copywriting. And never stop creating unique copy. Those are the two lessons you can and should learn from the successful brands listed above.

Here’s the kicker: when I started this story, it was about a local coffee chop that caught my attention and kept me coming back with their superb ad copy.

But where do you think I got the inspiration to write this blog article?

That’s right. The coffee shop!

And there you have it, folks. Be on the lookout for creative inspiration from others because you never know when you’ll find it, and you never know when the perfect idea will strike like gold.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for As a small business expert, Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources, as well as providing small business advice.

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