If your marketing team sat down to brainstorm together, what would that look like? Many companies sit in formal conference rooms and verbally spew ideas while some poor individual lists the ideas on an oversized notepad or white board. Often times it is done as quickly as possible so everybody can get to the next meeting or looming deadline. The team ends up settling on something they all agree upon rather than making sure it is the absolute best idea and taking a risk. And so goes the status quo of recycled ideas and hum-drum marketing methods.
If you want your company to stand out as unique (think: Google), to be known as progressive or cutting edge, it will require some additional time for creativity. For starters, before reading any further, jot down all of the projects the marketing team needs ideas for. Use a scratch sheet of paper or that free notepad a vendor gave you last month. Ready? Go.
The rest of this post can wait a minute or two. Just give it a try.
Okay, good. Keep that scrap of paper nearby as you continue reading; you’ll want to refer back to it.
Some of the ideas you may have mentioned could be any of the following (if you missed one or think of another, feel free to add it to your paper or in the comments below):
- Event marketing opportunities
- Lecture/seminar topics
- Trade show exhibit themes
- Web content
- Lead magnets
- Email blasts
Individual players performing as a team
After you compared your list to this one, did you think of additional items or get a more specific idea about particular topics? That is how brainstorming should work: making use of the stream of consciousness for the sake of creativity. While there is value to the team brainstorming together, there is quite possibly greater value found when each team member brainstorms individually first and then the group combines and tweaks all of the ideas until the best one has been selected.
Color outside the lines
Before sending individuals off to brainstorm alone (and in more creative spaces than a conference room), give the team some parameters that will get their creative juices flowing. Teach them how to create a mindmap.
Before jumping head first into the how-to’s of mindmapping, look at your scrap of paper again and answer this question: how did you write your ideas down? Most people who grew up in public schools, where notebook paper was lined and each of those lines received its own number before a spelling test, will have composed an actual list made up entirely of words. That is a neat and orderly way to perform the task, but it leaves your brain in a rut of thinking linearly.
Enter mindmapping. Think of mindmapping as a combination between employing your stream of consciousness and playing a word association game. Or if those concepts are too vague, think of mindmapping versus list-making as the difference between walking through a candy store tasting every flavor of jellybean and sitting in a conference room wearing heels or a tie. One is fun, risky and exciting; the other oozes dread and boredom.
In the center of another scrap of paper, write one of the items from your previous brainstorming time. As you look at that word or topic, what comes to mind? Draw spokes out from the topic for each thing that comes to mind and write or draw or abbreviate whatever that thought was. If one of those thoughts leads you to another, draw a spoke off the secondary thought and record the new one. Continue this process until you run out of space on the page or out of ideas. For example, if you chose trade show exhibit themes as your central idea, the word themes may have made you think of a theme park like Disneyland or themed parties like luaus or a theme song. Each of those thoughts may have led you in a new direction.
When the map is complete, look at it as a whole. Research any questions it may have elicited, connect similar ideas that surfaced on different parts of the map or choose the most unrelated items and consider how they could work together to be the best idea. The purpose of the mindmap is to help you think differently; the final solution is up to you.
Now, imagine your team members each creating an individual mindmap and then meeting together at a restaurant or park to share their mindmap ideas. The creativity possibilities are endless.
This is a Guest Blog Post by Tiffany Marshall from StartRankingNow.com