It’s big, it’s powerful, and it’s part of every buying cycle

It's big, it's powerful, and it's part of every buying cycle

Writer Jack London said,

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Rottman Creative goes after inspiration with a club.

We feel a level of intensity around inspiration that’s as wild and untamed as Jack London’s Yukon Territory. Everything we have always done has been about chasing inspiration. We said from the very beginning, people need to be inspired to act. It’s who we are and what we do for our clients.

Something interesting happened though. The more we worked to infuse inspiration into event marketing campaigns, the more we found ourselves talking about connection. Our clients needed to inspire their members. But equally important was their members’ need to connect. Connection, we saw, was the twin desire of inspiration. People inspire to connect, and they connect to be inspired.


This Inspiration-Connection Duality™: it’s big, it’s powerful, and it’s part of every buying cycle.

We have been living it and sharing it. We know that this duality is what helps associations grow, thrive, and change their members’ lives. When new clients would come to us, as part of the discovery phase, we’d audit their past marketing, and we could plainly see the campaigns that worked and the campaigns that didn’t. They would talk to us about their struggles to attract millennials (and their fear of being unsustainable without them), about being perpetually stuck on the membership acquisition and retention roller coaster, and about their inability to get out of “reaction” mode when the latest marketing tool or social media platform came along. We could plainly see that their problems were failures of inspiration and failures of connection.

Surely though, there was more to this than a gut feeling? Could there be a science behind it? Data? A meaningful and agreed-upon way to define this seemingly unknowable Mobius strip linking inspiration and connection? We took a step back, and realized that we needed a deeper understanding of this Inspiration-Connection Duality™. We set out to understand it—not just at the level of the heart, but scientifically.

First, we dove into inspiration, a concept that floats around in space, finds its way into lines of poetry, buddies around with muses and supernatural beings, and is plastered all over Pinterest. But what does it truly mean to inspire, or to be inspired? What do associations need to do to inspire people? Then, we turned our brains to connection, the domain of quantum physicists, biologists, and psychologists alike. How do people connect? What are the elements of connection? Why is there so much disconnection? And what do inspired and connected members do that non-inspired and non-connected members don’t do?

We took on these questions with purpose and focus. And we found answers.

Inspiration is not unknowable. It is quite knowable. It’s replicable. It’s scalable. And it is science. The same is true of connection. We are, in fact, wired to connect. Yet so often, we belie our own DNA, our own atomic structure, and find ourselves disconnected.

In our findings, we discovered that there are certain things that MUST be in place for inspiration to occur, and there are certain ways that inspiration actually moves people toward things. (1)

We also found that elusive bridge between inspiration and connection. We knew the connection piece was central, but we struggled to articulate its relationship to inspiration—knowing only it was part of this duality. We now understand not only the role of connection, but also what creates the high-quality connections that make events thrive—and the low-quality connections that detract, leaving damage in their wake.(2) We understand why those millennials aren’t interested, why associations can’t get themselves off the rollercoaster, and why they spin their wheels with their marketing efforts.

We realize these things, and this is the crux of what you need to understand:
  • Your event marketing has a big job to do. It must harness the specific things research shows are needed for inspiration to happen. Do this, and you’ve enabled people to create the all-important high-quality connections. And THAT is? the formula for greater impact and sustainability. THAT is how you get off the roller coaster. THAT is how you bring in the next generation and continue to change lives.

If we were fierce in stalking inspiration and connection before, now we are positively howling. Our own call of the wild is, “Hell Yeah!” We will bring what we have learned to every association that is brave enough to hear it and join us in our howl! And, as always, we will bring this knowledge to bear on every piece of marketing we do for our clients. That’s not a promise we make lightly. Get your club and let’s go! We have some inspiration to chase, and some connections to make.

Hell Yeah!


(1) Thrash, T.M., & Elliot, A.J. (2003). Inspiration as a psychological construct. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 871-889. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.871

(2) Dutton, J. E., & Heaphy, E. D. (2003). The power of high-quality connections. Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline, 3, 263-278.


This is the first of several pieces we will write about inspiration and connection. Our goal is to help you digest it in pieces, in nuggets that you can relate to with your own brand and event. What’s ahead in the coming months? Here are just a few of the topics we’ll be diving into.

  • The three key ingredients you absolutely need to inspire members.
  • Understanding the role of trigger objects and target objects in inspiration.
  • What’s The Inspirational Scale and why should your association care about it?
  • The bridge from inspiration to connection that all associations need to cross.
  • What are high-quality connections, and how do you harness them for your marketing?
  • The true cause of low-quality connections (and the damage they do to your members and your event).

Get our strategic marketing solutions right to your inbox

START TODAY>