Great ideas give you a competitive advantage.
They are the result of the creative thinking that every business needs to succeed – be it fundamental problem-solving processes right through to keeping your staff happy.
In our day-to-day at Builtvisible, one of the most visible outputs of creative thinking are the ideas that underpin the content marketing strategies and campaigns we run for our clients.
But how do you come up with the killer ideas that get your brand the visibility it deserves?
Starting with the following premise, I walked through some tactics for thinking more creatively, having more productive ideation sessions and successfully pitching ideas:
“A good idea solves a problem with a simple and relevant solution”
Here’s the full slide deck, with a few of my favourite examples for you to take a look at below. Send us a tweet @Builtvisible if you have any questions.
How to become more of an ‘ideas’ person
Now, I’d love to be able to tell you how to have great ideas, but I’m not going to pretend that I can do that. So instead I’m going to suggest some ways you can become more of an ‘ideas’ person.
Try new things
The content team at Builtvisible are always trying new things to gain new experiences, meet new people and expand our horizons. Along the way we gather ideas and disparate pieces of information which eventually make their way back into our work.
Below you’ll see Patsy, one of our Senior Execs working in a school in Kenya. The pile of books represents Tori, our one of our Consultants who has set herself the challenge of reading a book a week for a year! Several members of the team are also going through Chance UK’s rigorous training course to become mentors to children in the local area.
So, if you’re trying to think more creatively, be curious, be interested in the world around you and get out there and try new things.
Ideas can hit you when you least expect it, so make sure you capture them before they evaporate into thin air.
I use a few apps to help me do this, but the most important thing to remember is to explain yourself. There’s nothing more annoying than seeing a vague one-liner in your inbox on Monday with no recollection of the idea, context or source. You know there’s a gem in there somewhere, but it’s too late.
Gathering bits and pieces of information and noting them down is fine, but it’s not much use unless you start to make connections between them.
“Creativity is just connecting things”
– Steve Jobs
We see this in action every day on the content team, often thanks to our morning ritual, the news round-up. Content Execs are assigned a sector and will send round a summary of the day’s most interesting news social trends. These almost always spark a lively discussion as members of the team make connections between the news stories and their own notes and ideas for their clients.
How to have a more productive ideation session
Do your research
It’s important to gather as much information as possible before you start trying to come up with ideas. As well as getting to know the client and their industry, we also tend to conduct in-depth competitor analysis and content audits. This helps us spot gaps, opportunities and problems to solve at each stage of the conversion funnel.
Have terrible ideas
I’ve been trialling an idea I heard in Rod Judkins’ The Art of Creative Thinking. It’s called 100 ideas and is fairly self-explanatory: if you have a problem to solve, try thinking of 100 ways to solve it. You will of course come up with many terrible ideas but somewhere in there, there will be at least one good idea, if not more.
I like this technique because it takes the pressure off, your ideas can flow freely and it really doesn’t take long. Below are the results of my most recent trial which took around an hour and a half to complete.
Take it outside
Try a change of scenery when you’re next holding an ideation session. It could literally be outside in the fresh air, or maybe you could try hiring a room outside your office, or even going to the client’s site.
The team working on one of our luxury hotel accounts went to meet the frontline staff, tour the historic building, and try some afternoon tea to immerse themselves in the brand and the customer experience.. Unfortunately, not all our clients are quite so glamourous – we’ve toured pest control facilities and trialled digestive health supplements too, all in the name of ideas!
How to pitch your ideas
To me, pitching your idea is the most important phase. If the decision maker doesn’t get it, all your hard work will have been for nothing.
Do it face- to-face
My biggest piece of advice is to pitch your ideas face to face. Channel your inner Don Draper and start selling the story. Set the scene by referring to the research you did at the beginning, describe how it fits in to the user journey and share your enthusiasm for the idea.
Most of all, take your time to properly explain yourself. Sometimes, when you’ve been working on an idea for a while, you can get carried away with the details and forget the fundamentals. In most cases, this will be the first time the client has heard the idea, so you’ll need to walk them through it step by step.
Know your audience
Equally important, know your audience and make sure you tailor your pitch to them. People at different levels of the business care about different things so make sure you know who you are talking to and what they are expecting to hear.
Take a prototype
At Builtvisible, our ideation and pitching process usually involves creating a wireframe or prototype of a concept to help us better convey the idea to our clients. As global design company IDEO so elegantly put it:
“If a picture is worth 1000 words then a prototype is worth 1000 meetings”
You will save so much time, confusion and miscommunication if you present your idea with a prototype. Here’s an example from our work which hopefully shows just that:
Hopefully you’ve found some of the above ideas useful. If so, there are a few more in my SlideShare for you to try out.
We’re always open to conversations and questions, so get in touch if you’re interested in having a chat about how to apply this methodology to your brand.