How to brainstorm the BIG IDEA step-by-step

creativity in direct marketingBoost Your Direct Marketing Creativity
- Part 6 -

We’ve covered a lot of territory in this series:

The three levels of creative mastery, good creative traits, bad creative habits, releasing your natural creativity, and inspiring your creative staff.

In this final installment, let’s look at one of the most widespread and powerful creative techniques ever devised. When used properly, it can produce more and better ideas than any other process.

It’s called brainstorming. And it’s based on the concept that two heads (or three, or four, or more) are better than one.

Many would argue that you can’t create by committee. I agree. Writing, designing, and other creative acts are best performed by individuals. Creative execution by committee invariably regresses to the mean. The results are weak and watered-down.

However, brainstorming is not about creative execution. It’s about idea creation. And it is almost always more productive as a group activity.

The result of a brainstorming session is — or should be — a long list of potential ideas which can be evaluated, the best chosen for creative execution at a later time. Sure, you’ll come up with a ton of dumb ideas, but so what? Once you get the ideas flowing, the great ideas will float to the top.

And some of those ideas that seem dumb end up being pretty smart once you test them and see the results.

This is not only a great way to solve seemingly insoluble problems, but also an effective means for generating new ideas to keep your testing program fresh.

If you’ve had bad luck with brainstorming, you’re just not doing it right. Because in my experience, conducting a brainstorming session is like throwing a match into a room full of firecrackers. There’s a sudden and powerful chain reaction.

Here are a few suggestions for creating some fireworks of your own:

Before Your Session …

During Your Session …

  1. Each session participant must contribute ideas, accept ideas of others, or improve on ideas.
  2. No one may criticize or evaluate any idea. Alex F. Osborn in Applied Imagination said it best: “Think up or shut up.”
  3. No one will hold back ideas. When something comes to mind, say it.
  4. The group will encourage wild, out-of-the box thinking.
  5. The goal of the session is quantity, not quality. Quality will be evaluated later.
  6. Ideas will be developed fully. Participants should hitchhike ideas on the ideas of others to produce more and better ideas. When an idea is developed, the group will move on.

After Your Session …

When the dust settles, you should find yourself with some surprisingly good ideas. And the whole process often energizes your staff and improves morale as well.

But don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work perfectly the first time. Assembling the right group, creating an open atmosphere, and producing the best results often takes time. As with so many other things in life, practice makes perfect.

Well, that completes this series on direct marketing creativity. I hope you found some useful and profitable ideas.

By the way, let me know if you’ve tried brainstorming and how it worked for you.

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One Response to “How to brainstorm the BIG IDEA step-by-step”

  1. catherine palmer on April 6th, 2011 4:05 pm

    I Love your work pls i need more of this

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