You could go to a B-school to get an MBA in Marketing, but nothing beats learning directly from the legends in our field.
Ultimately, we’re craftsmen of words & visuals. So like any other form of art, we must dedicate a big chunk of our study time towards observing how our seniors hone their craft. The more campaigns, case studies, and adverts we study, the sharper our creative judgment will become.
Sure, it can be a little intimidating to see all this genius; it can leave you doubting your own abilities, but as you accumulate references over the years, you’ll develop a premium taste, and with a well-nourished intuition, you’ll see the quality of your own work improve as well.
This is actually how every award winner & advertising celebrity started out, so have faith in the method.
To begin this journey, we’ve got traditional sources like industry blogs, social content aggregators (e.g. Mad Over Marketing or Social Samosa), and an assortment of marketing YouTube channels. But these can only teach you so much.
Someday, you’ll get bored or run out of stuff to learn.
Don’t worry, in such cases, you can expand your horizons by turning to these underrated sources for some rich marketing inspiration.
As the street is filled with more & more noise, brand activation is becoming a must-have survival strategy. Stopping people in their tracks to convey important messages & deliver memorable short experiences is the challenge marketers are up against.
COTW honors the most creative solutions to this problem. I visit it every week to see some of the most daring & impactful campaigns conceptualized by agencies & in-house marketing teams from around the blue planet.
There are ads with really big loud words and impossible promises.
Then there’s the more subtle “high-end” genre, which takes a while to understand, but once it clicks, you experience a brilliant “got-it” moment. AOW features such connoisseur-level work with extraordinary direction as well as execution.
They’ve got both video and static. Plus, there’s also a special section of student-submitted ads, standing as a testament to the belief that good marketing can come from any age group!
This is another cool hub like Adweek, following almost an identical format and featuring the same standard of work. However, the filtering options are much better on Adeevee as you can sort by the creative director, country, year, agency, type of media, brand, and industry.
This is another prestigious award you can win as an agency after the likes of Cannes Lions, Clio, and Davey. You can browse the winner campaigns by moving images (video), digital, ambient experience, creative technology, billboards, futuristic concepts, integrated stories, and craft (art direction).
Want to learn how to craft gorgeous-looking newsletters or shopping campaigns that convert huge sales? Look no further than Really Good Emails, a site that compiles emails from top organizations around the world.
It not only presents the design and copy but also confirms whether the email is accessible for all recipients. You can learn some best practices like optimizing it with alt text, metadata, appropriate headings, and other elements.
Honestly, this site in itself is better than any email design course out there!
I also found a nearly identical website called “Milled.com,” which is one of the largest libraries/collectors of email newsletters from popular brands in the West like Steve Madden, Nike, Apple, Zara, and more.
If you worship David Ogilvy and go gaga over witty billboards or banners, then you’ll spend hours soaking in the copy-heavy ads on Swipe-Worthy.
They feature collections like “Classic 90’s long-form ads,” “Brand apology letters,” and “Modern full-page Advertorials,” so this is as close to heaven as you sneaky over-caffeinated copywriters will ever get.
As the Editor of this wonderful library says, “98% of websites nowadays suuuuuck so bad because their copy is so vague, so blasé, so buzzwordy, that you can’t even understand what the heck is the product.”
That’s why they’ve created Great Landing Page Copy, a curation of sites that do the opposite, which is grabbing your attention & conveying information in a way that’s relevant, memorable, and above all, effective in getting visitors to perform the call-to-action (CTA).
In other words, “It’s a little corner of the internet to find great examples of websites that are easy to read, feel relatable, and sound like a human, not a robot.”
I visit it whenever I need examples of how to build a high-converting, sales-optimized website or ad campaign landing pages for my clients.
In case you don’t find anything useful, here are some similar websites you can also check out for website & landing page design inspiration.
Landingfolio: Hand-picked UIs for landing, pricing, about, login, and other main pages
Landbook: A premium collection of ultra-modern design portfolios, blogs, and LPs
Marketing is not about simply being creative for the sake of it.
The bottom line is making a sale, so even modern marketers need training in traditional advertising & persuasion techniques from the wonder years of the industry when Mad Men ruled the streets.
For this, I regularly visit Adsets.xyz, which features the top-performing ads for each major industry like tech, education, and F&B. Not only can you spy on your competitors, but simply browsing the ads will give you enough design & copy inspiration to create your own.
The cool feature here is the quality filter, as their team only picks the most effective ads based on internal analysis. So you’ll be replicating from tried & tested methods.
That said, if you want to zoom in on a specific page, say that of a competitor, FB Ads Library will give you an all-access view of their currently running campaigns.
Both these platforms have saved me countless times when I ran out of ideas for creative ads to pitch to my clients.
The Cannes Lions is the most coveted award show in the world of advertising. But to view all the great ad campaigns selected by the jury, you have to pay a hefty fee on the site.
To work around this, Quynh Tran and Toan Mai, did some Googling wizardry and created an archive that contains direct links to the info & video pages of all the award-winning campaigns. No paywalls, no subscriptions – just click the links and watch the campaign.
As they explained, “LoveTheWorkMore compiles (and constantly updates) all Cannes-winning advertising works from this year forward, dated all the way backwards to 1954 … Greatness is tough to reach, but should never be tough to see.”
What’s crazy is that they had actually set up a site titled “Love The Work,” which got shut down by Cannes (as it threatened their revenue stream). So the authors set up another website, this time adding more backdated entries to the new site.
The initiative sparked a huge discussion in the global advertising community, and as one tweeter put it, marks a landmark in advertising education.
This is a recent find so I’ve added it last, but it’s as good as any other entry on the list. I really love their clean website look, and the articles are crisp as well.
As the name suggests, they cover brand campaigns that have creativity at their core, and have visible proof of creating impact for the target audience. I visit the site every week as it always has new entries to massage my creative muscles!
So that concludes my list of the best places to visit for marketing and/or creative inspiration.
Where do you go to do your research? Did I miss any cool websites, blogs, forums, or knowledge mining tools?
Let me know your thoughts & suggestions in the comments below!
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