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  • Writer's pictureMyriam Jessier

ADHD-friendly Marketing Audience Research

Updated: May 24

Use your ADHD as an advantage for marketing. A study found that a whopping 77% of those in the marketing industry display four or more Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms. If you are neurodivergent, some stuff may simply not work the same way for you. There’s a study, Storytelling Methods on the Move, which suggests neurodivergent individuals should embrace outside-the-box thinking and approaches to audience research. It advocates for non-normative methods that can uncover unique insights and foster creativity. In simpler terms, if you're neurodivergent, traditional audience research methods might not resonate with how your mind works. Non-traditional, innovative methods can lead to more engaging and insightful research and content. Embrace your unique cognitive strengths and try these outside-the-box approaches to understanding your audience better. 

Tap into your unique perspective

Your neurodivergent brain excels at making intriguing connections between seemingly unrelated topics. This means your creative thinking adds value to marketing strategies. Embracing neurodivergent strengths can result in unique and innovative strategies and a successful digital marketing career.

Take a deep dive in a niche subreddit: sort by all time best

Sort posts by "top" or "all-time best" to quickly grasp what genuinely resonates with people there. You'll quickly see the type of human content folks like, not just stuff that's built on a good hook and doesn't really deliver. Humans are weird and full of quirks. Look for quirks, inside jokes, and human elements that data alone can't capture - elements. You'll quickly hone-in and get creative ideas for your marketing efforts.

You need a brain dump

Jot down these unusual, weird, fascinating associations as they pop into your head - they could spark engaging content ideas that intrigue your audience. I call it a brain dump, where you collect and “dump” everything that is going through your brain during this process. Hannah Brady, fellow ADHD marketer, calls it a “parking lot”: “Your ‘parking lot’ is where you capture everything that floats through your head. It can be a document on your desktop, a notebook, a corkboard - it doesn’t matter how you do it, only that it’s easily and instantly accessible.” Use a Slack channel for that, a Rocketbook, Obsidian, Google Docs, whatever works. Keep post-its next to your desk. 

Time to connect the dots

Sometimes, your novel perspective may uncover insights others have already explored, so do a quick search to see if you've stumbled onto something shareable. My brain makes connections between topics that have nothing in common at first glance which makes me awesome at metaphors. This is something that I keep in mind because I never know what my brain will connect what I want to talk about with another topic. Sometimes, other people have already connected the two ideas you connected so Google it and you may stumble upon something you will love sharing with folks.

Challenge the status quo: how to critique with candor

Remember, “best practices” are a foundation for testing, not a checklist for implementation. If research tools or existing content leave you feeling uninspired, use that boredom as fuel. It's a powerful tool. Analyze what's lacking and brainstorm ways to create something far more engaging - the kind of content you'd genuinely want to consume. Your unfiltered critiques and ideas for improvement could uncover gaps to fill. Write down why it feels boring, snark away, think about what you'd do differently, the type of thing that you'd want to read instead of being stuck reading those boring headlines.

Another way to approach it is to have an anti-inspiration: that one person or brand that makes your blood pressure rise because you simply do. not. comprehend...what the fuss is about.

Identify a person, brand, or piece of content that baffles or frustrates you. Let that stark disconnect motivate you to create something vastly better - something that clearly works for your audience, in a way that the anti-inspiration does not. Ensure it's not just your expertise causing blind spots before assuming their approach misses the mark. Sometimes, it's the curse of knowledge playing tricks on you.

Harness your flow and innovate with your insights

Embracing your natural workflow, even if unconventional, helps manage tasks effectively. When you enter a state of intense focus and productivity, harness that flow state for writing and content creation. This heightened state of concentration can help you power through tasks more efficiently. When you know you have focused attention on the topic, do the writing and "putting stuff together" instead of the curation. Each element you saved in your “brain dump” becomes a prototype with its own question to be tested; each success or failure becomes an answer. When you are tinkering, consider breaking an idea down into its essential parts, but remember that parts cannot only be considered on their own; they must be seen in the context of the whole. By choosing the most promising combination of the most promising elements, you arrive at the bare minimum—a whole new starting point. 

Going forward

By leaning into your neurodivergent strengths - making novel connections, offering unvarnished critiques, harnessing hyperfocus, embracing niche quirks, and learning from frustrating examples - you can blaze new trails in audience research tailored to how your mind naturally operates. Sure attention deficit is not fun but it is something that helps me in my digital marketing career. I know for a fact I'm not the only one!

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