Marketing Research: Generating Rich Ideas

By Alexander Hiam

Creativity in marketing as well as many other areas of your business can help you find the next big, successful approach. You need not only information about your customers and how you can meet their needs, but creative ways to let them know.

Artists practice creativity every day, but people in business generally don’t. As a result, many businesspeople have remarkably few creative ideas in a day, or even in a year. So how can you start acting creatively? What’s involved in generating unusually creative ideas?

First and foremost, give yourself permission to be creative in your work. After all, creativity requires you to let the mind’s engine sit in idle, and you can’t be creative if you’re busy returning e-mails and phone calls or rushing to finish the day’s paperwork.

Go ahead and budget time for creativity, and use that time to open yourself up through new and different ways of working, asking questions, and exploring your marketing problems and opportunities. How much time?

Well, if creativity is the most powerful and profitable of the marketing skills, how often do you think you should use it? One hour a month? One hour a week? One hour a day? One day a week? You have to figure out exactly how much creativity time you need based on what your product or company demands.

Additionally, seek out inspiration. Collect stories of creative marketing, using a bulletin board (in your office or on Pinterest), a large-sized index card box, a PowerPoint slide show, or another creative idea for how to store and display your examples. Jump the fence into other arenas, collecting creative actions from organizations and industries far from your own to make this collection more novel.

Once a week (perhaps at Friday bag-lunch sessions), gather your team, pull out examples, and share your ideas. Which do you like best? Why? Could you try something similar (or creatively different) in your business?

If your creative well begins to run dry after a few such sessions, consider opening up the group to virtual participants. Crowdsource creative examples and suggestions, and then review them at your weekly creative lunches.

Oh, and don’t eat the same old sandwich you always have. It’s a creativity session! Take turns bringing in novel foods. When the taste buds are opened up, the mind usually follows.