You’ve just been asked to put together some marketing ideas by the end of the day to increase product sales. It’s Tuesday. After a big lunch. It’s raining. And that blank document on your screen feels like it’s sucking you in to the depths of hell.  Not exactly the optimal atmosphere for generating some killer marketing ideas. Let’s shake that weight off your shoulders by going through some tried and true idea exercises!

Role play

Think of your ideal customer and what they might be doing at that very moment. Maybe you are targeting those who live in the same town of a certain income range. They’re 45 years old. Maybe they’re teaching a high school class right now, but their mind is wandering to dinner plans. Keep this story line going. Write it down, act it out if you’re in a brainstorming meeting, then go back and insert where your product can help that person’s day be better. Maybe you’re trying increase credit card usage for your credit union or bank so you offer discounts for a local pizza parlor when they use your credit card. Maybe it’s a video or blog post on quick weeknight dinners with a grocery list made out for them. Role play can really help open the door to new ideas, especially if you can get very detailed in your story lines.

Bad marketing ideas first

And speaking of brainstorming sessions, remember that basic tip of brainstorming to write every idea down, even the bad, the obvious, the impossible. Go ahead and say them out loud, write them down so you can get them out of your head. You’ll clear space for new ideas. You can often use those bad, impossible and obvious ideas to even trigger ideas: why are those ideas ‘bad’?, is there a way to make them possible, feasible, better?

Improv comedy

You don’t have to have a comedian’s sense of timing or sharp wit to see how improv can really push your idea engine forward. Just use one of improv’s central principles: “yes, and…..” They accept whatever the previous comedian has offered (in essence, said “yes”), then built upon that action (in essence, said “and”). By saying “yes” we automatically open ourselves up to possibilities. That’s much more productive than throwing up road blocks. Then by adding to that action or thought, we are stretching those ideas even farther. In comedy, this often leads to the unexpected, touching on the absurd and definitely on the humorous. In generating marketing ideas, those unexpected twists and turns can lead to innovation and creativity.

Mind mapping

mind map exampleStart with a central topic, theme or word, then draw a line to other ideas, words, themes or topics related to that central topic. Then on each secondary word, connect other themes, topics and ideas using lines, so you begin to create branches stemming out from that central idea. Some words will have more connections that others and that’s usually where you will discover even more ideas and connections. Every so often take a step back to review the entire ‘map’. You’ll get reset and might notice some common themes. Here’s a great site for basic steps, software to help, and examples of other mind maps.

Pick two and keep pushing

I had a design professor in college who instilled a great development technique: Pick Two. When you have some marketing ideas, designs, headlines or whatever you’re creating that you think will work, pick two and keep pushing. Refine those two ideas. Test, challenge, try new words, new colors, new shapes, etc. Then when you think you’ve reached another good group of ideas, pick two of those and refine those! You may end up back close to the original two, but most likely your additional developments will result in something more innovative, something more concise and maybe even something more powerful.

Do something physical

After a stint of using your brain, get up and do something different, something physical. Going for a walk, driving to get a coffee, doing something crafty, anything to move your body and give your brain a rest. This is often when your brain will make some interesting connections in the mental work you’ve just gone through. Some people get those connections when they take a shower for instance. There are even studies showing how that works! Driving and walking really seem to get those connections going for me.

Need a brain boost for some specific marketing ideas? Give us a call at 256-714-6596 and we’ll get the ideas flowing!

Cover photograph credit: Rexxaka via Visualhunt / CC BY