Wednesday, 11 December 2013

My brain's a blank!

Now is there anyone on my list who could do with a battery operated sock warmer?  No?  How about that furry pig draft excluder then?!

I don’t know about you, but every year I find buying Christmas presents more and more difficult.  It’s not that there are a lack of lovely things to buy, it’s just that I can’t seem to dredge up original ideas. Not every present is difficult of course.  Children are fun to buy for and I can always find something to put a smile on the face of my female friends and relatives, but joint presents for couples are pretty tricky and as for you men out there….well…..!

Coming up with new ideas in a society of consumerism and excess is nigh on impossible.  From time to time we’ll see a new product that is such a great idea we wonder why no one had thought of it before.  But how many of those have you seen lately? 

In general, marketing is about ideas.  Of course, it’s about putting those ideas into practice and a lot more besides, but today’s marketer needs to be inventive to be noticed.  There are many ways in which to generate new ideas.  Brain-storming, challenging assumptions, making new and unexpected connections, or going out there and getting an external perspective are just a few.  But I’d suggest the starting point isn’t the idea…it’s the purpose.  As with everything in marketing – and business too – we should be asking ourselves ‘why?’.  How can we generate innovative ideas if we’re not sure what we’re trying to achieve?

Back in the 90’s there was a lot of hoo-hah about company visions and mission statements.  Almost always, the businesses that were creating these missives were established ones.  I’m not knocking them.  It’s always refreshing to revitalise and communicate your purpose.  The thing is, I’ve never met a brand new business owner who has thrust his or her mission statement into my hand.  Why not?!  Surely, the new business needs to know what it wants to be when it grows up!

So perhaps before we start on the meditation, team expression or in-depth soul searching that’s essential in the labour ward of idea creation, we make sure we know where we want to end up.  If a new business starts life with a strong and clear vision it will have a framework for ideas, it will know what values it needs to communicate and, above all, it will have a target against which to measure progress.

Happy head-scratching!

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