Need more ideas for your business? Try these tips.
Change is rapid, constant and challenging to keep ahead of – products and marketing strategies that worked last year may not be as effective this year.
Implementing the same strategies as in the past may keep your business treading water, but new ideas are needed now more then ever for you to compete and engage with your preferred customers.
The need for creative ideas can span a wide range of possibilities and topics. Depending on your business type, market dynamics, target customers or stage in the product life cycle, your challenges may include ideas for new names, taglines, products, services, promotions, content or social media posts.
Whatever your objective, following the tips outlined below can help you generate that golden nugget you are looking for!
1) Clearly define the problem, challenge or objective – write a single sentence which states what it is you are trying to get ideas around. This may sound basic, but getting clarity can help spark ideas.
For example, if you were looking for new products you might start with why. Has your current product line stopped growing due to a gap in the offering or a feature it is lacking? Maybe you have received feedback indicating a characteristic of your offering is either unattractive or even annoys your customers? This allows you to focus on how you can address these known challenges.
“Simple can be harder than complex:
You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.
But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
– Steve Jobs
2) Set a timer – generate as many ideas as you can in short bursts of time. We’re talking 10 – 15 minutes here.
If you’ve eve been in one of those meetings that go on and on, did you notice as time goes on creative productivity decreases? The timer also gives you a constraint, which research has shown helps with creativity.
Try to do a couple of these sessions without evaluating or reiterating things from previous sessions.
You can do this on a screen, paper, on a white board or a flip chart, whichever makes you feel most creative.
Here is how it may play out - if you are trying to generate a new name for your business, start with a clear idea of what you want the business to be.
Then, on a flip chart, write down all the words you can think of that describe or relate to this concept. Once you have your initial list, search to see if there are additional words or ideas from brands you admire even if they are unrelated.
Then have fun making combinations of the words on your list and see how they sound.
For example, let’s say you’re designing a logo and branding for a holistic medical practice. You think of successful companies that have branding that emulates some of your practice's characteristics. Apple’s success in branding pops into your mind. That gives you the idea of fruit -- and maybe an unique image of a person combined with a super fruit like apricot or pineapple . . . remember at this point, there are no bad ideas, record them all without judging.
“Ideas come from everything”
- Alfred Hitchcock
3) Be patient -- If ideas don’t flow, walk away. Work on something else, get a cup of coffee, or go for a walk outside. Getting away can help relax and free your mind, letting your subconscious mind have a turn to work on the challenge.
"The air is full of ideas. They are knocking you in the head all the time. You only have to know what you want, then forget it, and go about your business. Suddenly, the idea will come through. It was there all the time." - Henry Ford
4) Observe and Gather -- You have heard of hunter-gatherer. The creative you is now an Observer-Gatherer!
Keep your eyes open and notice things around you. Whenever a lightning bolt idea hits you – no matter what the topic – gather it up and save it. Useful techniques for this are to use Evernote, One Note, send yourself an email, or go retro and carry a little notebook. Do whatever works best for you - but do it – after just one month you will be surprised at the number of really cool ideas and original thoughts you will have collected!
Great ideas can be like shooting stars –
capture them when you get them – jot them down –
and review them at a later date.
5) Bring others into the mix -- if you work with the team or have trusted friends, colleagues or advisers, share your ideas with them and get their reactions. Often, people that aren’t directly involved with the challenge can raise good questions and contribute novel ideas.
Tip: Create an evaluation free zone (or times) to share and discuss ideas. When you are trying to get good ideas, there are no bad ideas. An outlandish or crazy thought might not be so crazy with a few tweaks.
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
- John Steinbeck
6) Finally, if you work with a team, conduct a structured brainstorming session. This can be a very effective process in generating creative solutions. There are process parameters and session ground rules that should be followed – if done correctly it is amazing what your team will come up with! Here are a few guidelines to get you started:
Invite open-minded, energetic positive people.
Don't allow criticism or editing of ideas; encourage participants to:
“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”
- David Ogilvy
Author’s note: I love brainstorming and idea generation. As a marketing professional with a background in team dynamics, I’ve lead many brainstorming sessions to generate new product concepts and solve persistent or sticky problems. It works, it’s fun and truly more minds are better than one when it comes to creative problem solving.
I hope these tips will be helpful for you.
Please comment or send me additional thoughts or experiences -- and thanks for reading!
Great idea generation usually results in more ideas than can be used. The next step is prioritizing and selecting ideas. If you need help with that, read our next blog or contact us to see how we can help your business grow.
Once again someone has asked when you are going to get a new website. You're definitely not excited about spending the time and resources it would take to get it done.
Do you really need to do it? It's an important decision – in this digital age, your website is a critical part of your business’s success. It’s often the first—and in some cases the only—interaction customers have with your business.
Answering these questions might make your decision easier ...
Is your site:
Why are these important?
1) A great representative of your brand? Because first impressions are important -- you should evaluate if the site makes the impression you'd like. Has your target market changed since you launched your site? If you’re not sure, try asking recent customers or prospects what they think of your site.
2) Fast loading and easy to navigate? As companies grow, they often add pages to their websites. Adding pages that way can create a site that is difficult to navigate. Customers may become frustrated if loading is too slow or it takes too many clicks to get to their information. You can check if this is a problem with Google's free analysis.
3) Mobile friendly – Mobile is becoming increasingly important. Over half of internet traffic now comes from a mobile device. If you love your site, it may be possible to transfer the content to a template that looks good on both a PC and mobile phone (responsive design) at a lower cost and effort than building a new site.
4) Attracting needed traffic? Your website might be fine, but you can generate a higher ROI by enhancing the digital strategy that drives traffic to the site. A digital strategy can include complementary components, like SEO organic traffic, Adwords and / or Bing Ads for paid traffic, content marketing and social media.
Thanks for reading!
Broad Reach Marketing provides practical, effective solutions to connect with your customers.
If you’d like to discuss any of these points or find out more, contact us !
This is the third and final blog in our series of three focusing on rebranding a business.
The first blog, “When is Rebranding the Answer?” concentrated on the questions to ask and situations where rebranding may be the strategically right thing to do for renewing or expanding your business.
The second, ” So You’ve Decided to Rebrand- What’s Next?” focuses on the process of researching and defining your new brand.
Our final blog, "The Nitty Gritty Rebranding Check List" is just that - a tool developed to assist you as you go about your re-branding effort.
The Rebranding Checklist
Phase I – Creation
Complete your market research
Gain Feedback - Inputs from:
Re-define your positioning
Gain Stakeholder Consensus on Re-Branding Profile
Finalize your new strategic direction:
Clear Vision Statement
Company Culture & Values Statement
Clear Marketplace Value Proposition
Finalize Creative Logo tag line and styles that represents the organization as defined above
Phase II – Internal Re-alignment
Employee / Management Education and Consensus:
Why the new emphasis – What’s in it for the business and them
How it affects everyone behaviorally
How the change will be measured
Phase III – Non Web-based Re-alignment
Phase IV – Web-based Re-alignment
On-page SEO: Titles, Keywords, Meta Descriptions
Opt-in form for Email Newsletter
Phase V – External Notification
Who to Contact How to Contact
Notification methods may include:
Written Notification (letters, forms etc)
Social Media Announcements
Launch Luncheons or Festivities
Thanks for reading!
Contact us for a free copy of this checklist (spreadsheet format).
This is Blog 2 of a three part series on Rebranding. The first post is "When is Rebranding the Answer?"
It’s the beginning of a new year and you plan to make some changes to your business. And one of them is to rebrand as you revitalize or expand.
So what steps do you need to take? As you work through the process of creating a new brand, please keep in mind the definition of a “brand” as defined by Seth Godin:
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that,
taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or
service over another.”
1) Understand your current image
Using that definition, the first step to successful rebranding is finding out what current customers, employees and key stakeholders REALLY think of your organization and the brand that represents it.
When gathering this feedback, pay particular attention to:
2) Identify Brand Characteristics
Once the feedback is collected, the next step is to identify the key characteristics of the new brand.
The output from this analysis will be a statement of brand attributes.
3) Get Creative
Now the fun begins! Set up a brainstorming session to generate options for the desired brand name, logo, tag-line and/or other branding symbols. Then, keeping in mind target customers’ demographics and perspectives, narrow the brainstorm list down to 2-3 potentials. Even if you hire an outside agency, be sure to invite key employees, management and stakeholders to participate in this process – they can be sources of creative ideas and their participation will help to increase buy-in and support.
4) Check Availability
Sometimes everyone’s favorite option isn’t available, so be sure to check the availability and suitability of the final choices.
Here’s an example of what can happen if you skip this step.
A local Pesticide company wanted a new look to reflect a change in management. The old branding included a dark brown logo of a tank. The updated look included lighter colors, predominantly yellow. Seemed like a good change. But when they implemented the new branding, they ordered new yellow shirts for the service crew. Unfortunately, the shirts showed dirt and sweat easily; the technicians disliked them for this and customer impressions were poor. After a while, the company listened, reversing their decision and returning to brown shirts, but this could have been avoided by involving key individuals in the rebranding creation process.
When selecting your new brand, remember to test before full implementation takes place.
Does the new brand convey the right message?
Is the tag line appropriate?
Does the logo have a hidden (unintended) meaning or symbol?
Testing may seem time consuming, but even well established companies have made the mistake of not testing and incurred embarrassment and negative impacts.
What can happen:
When Airbnb unveiled this logo, it generated a wave of criticism for its design.
Some likened it to a triangular paperclip or something else unintended.
6) Plan Implementation
Finally, the devil is in the details! Take the time to plan for every aspect of implementing the new brand. The best branding is consistent; therefore updating everything customers come in contact with is important. Often it is advisable to include a “soft launch” before announcing your new brand.
Our third and final blog entitled the Nitty Gritty Rebranding Checklist will include a handy list of common items to update during your implementation phase. Please watch for it!
Thanks for reading, and as always comments and additional thoughts are appreciated. If you have questions concerning your rebranding efforts please contact us!
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Marketing Tips is dedicated to providing busy professionals and local businesses with information on marketing trends, strategy and tactics in a way that is both accurate and easy to read.