Advertising is an industry that can famously get all wrapped around itself. We create things that look like ad campaigns, then we evaluate the quality of those campaigns versus other campaigns. We see a great campaign and challenge ourselves to make our next campaign even better. And sure, that’s useful to a point.

But from regular people’s perspective, the competition isn’t other ads. It’s everything. The entirety of life is competing for their attention. So you’ve got to find inspiration from places that aren’t just other kinds of advertising.

That’s why when Kickdrum heads out for inspiration, we look outside of marketing courses and ad festivals. Our social feeds are already chock full of stuff other agencies are doing and “industry-relevant” articles. We want to be inspired by how people outside of marketing are getting people to listen to what they have to say, bring them together to tackle their cause, and get them to take action.

At the Cusp Conference in Chicago we heard from, among others, street poets connecting with young men in need of direction, environmental activists transforming the clothing industry, the woman who wrote Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls, and a guy who plays the clarinet with whales.

We want the work we make on behalf of our clients to be effective when stacked up against real-world competition. When we hear people outside of marketing talking about how they communicate, we always learn something new.

It’s comfortable to pontificate on Twitter about marketing as an academic concern, but our job is to reach people in the real-world. To get that perspective you have to make yourself step outside of the marketing sphere.

You’ve got to earn it.