Want to be a better marketer? Do nothing.

Today I spent three hours staring at my desk.

Not my notepad. Not my laptop. My desk.

At one point I shifted from leaning to my right, to leaning to my left.

(This isn’t a poem I promise…)

Anyway. Someone PAID for that time.

They PAID for me to sit on my butt and stare at an inanimate rectangle on sticks.

…And you know what? 

They got value for their money.

More value than I could have delivered any other way.


I mean…I wasn’t burying my head in research.

I wasn’t surveying a bunch of C-suites about the problems they’re trying to solve.

I wasn’t doing a competitor audit to see how others have solved the problem I’m trying to solve.

I wasn’t doing an SEO audit to see which words I should use and which words I shouldn’t. 

So what the hell was I doing?!

Well, ‘nothing’, technically. 

Nothing you could charge for, or log against a timesheet anyway. 

…I was, quite simply, thinking.

I put all the ideas, insights and input I’d gathered over the last few weeks (the things you can charge for) to the front of my mind, and then I just sat. And played with them. 

I put some of them together. I tore some of them apart. I gave some of them new names. I gave some of them crazy names. I imagined if the reverse of all of them were true. I imagined how some of them would sound out loud. I imagined how they’d sound in conversation. In a pitch. In an ad. Heck – at a dinner party

And you know what?

At the end of those three hours, I had the idea. 

The big idea.

The Galvanizing idea.

The kind of idea people come to Velocity for. 

The kind of idea that can’t be deduced from a list of rules, or best practices, or other people’s ideas. 

The kind of idea that sparks straplines, content, campaigns, websites, ads, emails – you name it – then ties them together under one central theme.

The kind of idea that takes imagination.

The kind of idea that depends entirely upon someone sitting on their butt, doing nothing.

THAT’S what I get paid for. 

THAT’S what my clients are desperate for. 

THAT’S what makes me good at my job. 

And THAT’S the reason I’m writing this blog post.

I feel like some of us are forgetting the power of our own thoughts and imaginations. Myself included.

I feel some of us are so busy delivering ‘work’ that idea generation (the stuff that makes the work good) is taking a backseat.

I feel like some of us are too ashamed to look like we’re doing nothing for hours, even if that’s when we’re doing our best work.

Writers, designers, content and brand strategists – let’s not forget who we are and what differentiates us from the people who don’t do this for a living.

“Just Do It” didn’t come from an SEO audit. 

“Think Different” wasn’t a product of competitor research.

“For companies with people in them” didn’t result from persona profiling.

The next time you’re asked to come up with The Big Idea™, don’t be afraid to do what the best idea generators on the planet do: nothing. 

Don’t be afraid to demand time for nothing.

Close your laptop, turn off your phone, forget the clock.

It’ll be worth every penny.

Today’s blog post image was created by Sean Leahy, Senior Creative Artworker. Nice innit!


“What did you do today?”
“I thought about stuff.”
“Is that all?”
“Well, I wrote some of it down.”

A great – and necessary – post.

(Best of luck with that timesheet, btw.)

    Hahaha, thank you Connor. If only we could think about timesheets and leave it at that.

So, question for Emma and her readers:

What do you all call the employee who synthesizes all the crap and comes up with The Big Idea? The most conceptual person on the team isn’t always a designated role … sometimes it’s a writer, sometimes it’s a designer — heck, sometimes it’s even an account manager.

But if one person consistently performed that role, and you were to give that person a title, what would it be? Creative strategist? Our agency has been struggling with this title.

    That’s an excellent question and one we’ve struggled with ourselves. At the moment I’m one of those people and my title is simply “Writer”, so there’s always some explaining to do to reflect my real role.

    Trouble is everyone has a different understanding of ‘strategy,’ and ‘Strategist’ also seems to be trending as a job title for a whole bunch of other things so I’m not sure if it’d do the job we want it to do. BUT…’Strategist’ is also the best word I can think of sooooo, I guess we’re caught between a rock and a hard place. If you find a solution do let me know!

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