Brainstorming 101: A Marketing Guide
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The Dick Van Dyke show used to be one of my favorites. The old TV show setup, the ’60s outfits, and the witty lines all pulled me in. In that show, Dick Van Dyke’s character, Rob, was a writer on a TV show. In a lot of episodes, it would show him and his colleagues coming up with ideas for the show’s script. They wrote jokes for the show while lying on the office couch, perched on the desk, and playing the piano. When one had a good idea, they’d all jump up in the middle of the room and riff off of the idea, coming up with tweaks and building on it. The cycle would go on again for the next idea. This form of brainstorming for ideas is exciting, energetic, and interactive. Oftentimes, the brainstorming process is a little less glamorous. However, with this Brainstorming 101: A Marketing Guide at your disposal, you (and I) can become entranced with the idea creation process once again. Even if we’re sitting alone at a desk, we can still harness the energy and excitement of Rob and his co-writers’ process.
When working on marketing, you need to come up with plenty of ideas. Content marketing includes blog topics, video content, and newsletter information; advertising campaigns need themes and focuses; and website development includes pages, plans, and layouts. This is only a dip into all the ideas needed in the marketing world. Read on for brainstorming techniques to help with your marketing ventures.
Brainstorming 101: A Marketing Guide
Plato, the man himself, once said “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” This concept is the basis of brainstorming. Brainstorming is generating ideas without discounting them. To brainstorm successfully, with any of these following methods, we have to keep minds open to possibilities without being set on the logistics and outcome right away.
Brainstorming alone can be very effective. However, if you have a marketing team in your company that works together, using everyone to brainstorm together can work well. In a group brainstorming session, you will get everyone’s ideas interacting with one another out in the open. This group method also gets people excited about the ideas that you’re thinking of. I’m no scientist but there’s something about a group of people that gets the energy and adrenaline going. When having a group brainstorming session, designate someone to be the secretary of the group. Keeping track of ideas as they come up will keep them for later use.
Starbursting is a brainstorming technique that can be done individually or with a group. In this process, you draw a star with six points. In the middle of the star, write what challenge you’re facing (in this instance, “blog topics” or “video series ideas” etc). On each point of the star, you’ll write a different word. These words are: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Answer each question in relation to your challenge. For example, who is the blog for? Where are the videos posted? These questions and the answers you come up for them will create new perspectives and different ways to think about your idea generation challenge.
Free-writing is a brainstorming technique that doubles as a stress reliever. In free-writing, you set up a solitary environment. You don’t want any distractions. All you need is a pen, paper, and a timer. You could also do this on the computer but the physical pen and paper enhances the experience. Once you’re set up, alone and quiet, set a timer for 5-10 minutes. For this allotted time, keep your pen moving. Don’t read over what you wrote, don’t scribble out, and don’t correct. Write whatever is crossing your mind at the moment. If you’re stuck, write about how you’re stuck. If you’re frustrated, write why. This is not only a way to subconsciously come up with new ideas but is also a way to get into the creative (non-judgmental) mindset needed for further brainstorming work.
Research is a way to brainstorm as well. While not flashy, researching topics can really help you come up with new ideas. Some places to begin research are:
- Google Trends for information about what is being searched worldwide
- YouTube videos of topics in your industry
- Competitor’s blogs/social media pages
- News outlets for timely topics
While researching, keep a casual list of what is popular and interesting. If you see a topic you’d like to write about, think about how you could take a new look at it. Can you take an opposite stance? Can you add new information to it? Write your new ideas down as you go along.
Mind-mapping is similar to Starbursting in that you start with a central topic/theme. In the middle of a paper write your central topic. For example, my mind-map for RedMoxy blog ideas might start with “August Blogs.” Then separate out sub-topics from this large topic. For my August blogs, I would write down the topics RedMoxy focuses on (SEO, manufacturing, advertising, B2B marketing, content marketing . . .) Draw more lines from these sub-topics and fill in more detailed sub-sub-topics. As you continue out further and further, your ideas will become more specific. These might lead to blog subjects or blog series. If you’re a visual thinker, mind-mapping has the potential to be helpful in organizing ideas into manageable sections.
Please contact RedMoxy Communications to further discuss marketing strategies. We’d love to talk!