Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Brain Game: Successful Brainstorming, Part 1

Brainstorming is like panning for gold. You dredge up as many raw ideas as you can from the depths of your mind and sift them through your emotions and intellect, keeping a keen eye out for the shiniest nuggets. When you’ve discovered a bright, new idea, you polish it up and show it off to the world by using it as the Big Idea that makes your product or service really shine. This Big Idea will form the foundation for the basic concept that drives all of your advertising and marcom, from billboards to brochures to TV to Twitters.

Getting creative ideas on demand isn’t as tough as you might think, but it does take some practice. In the next couple of blogs, I’ll give you some guidelines that will help you generate so many new ideas that you’ll have to file some away.

In fact, you’ll have so many to choose from that you may find it difficult to distinguish a genuinely Big Idea from one that’s merely brilliant. But don’t worry, there’s a virtually foolproof way to distinguish the best from the rest. That’s important to do, because if you’re selling to Boomers, you’re trying to motivate very picky consumers who won’t fall for the same old, tired pitch. You’ve got to convince them that your product or service is worthy of their time, attention and dollars. Do that, and you have a chance to turn them into loyal customers for life.

So, here’s what I call The Big Boom Test for determining if you’ve got a genuinely Big Idea—one that’s powerful enough to build all of your communications around.

If the idea startles you, better yet, scares you and others, you’ve got the real thing, so make the most of it.

Don’t get timid and settle for less than the best. Old, “pre-driven” ideas are so comfortable that they just sit there like overstuffed easy chairs and lull Boomers to sleep. That’s why they make terrible candidates for building credible, compelling advertising and marketing communication campaigns. If your idea is fresh enough to get everybody around you a little worried, you’ve made an important discovery. Use it wisely and well.

As you brainstorm, keep in mind that getting Big Ideas can be as quirky and individualistic as the people involved, so use my simple 10-point system as a starting point rather than a set of hard and fast rules. As you develop other ways to discover truly creative ideas, supplement my list with your own personal brainstorming wisdom. Over time, you’ll build a skill set that will prove to be indispensable to building your brand.

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