So…you know “those” marketing people? The ones who seem to have a dozen (or 100) spectacular ideas every day? Chances are, this question plays in a continuous loop in their brains:
What could we do with this?
“Idea people” get inspiration from everything they encounter, every single day.
While browsing social media: Oh, an underwater filmmaker/choreographer performs a jaw-dropping dance in the world’s deepest pool? What could we do with this?
While reading an online newspaper: Oh, a restaurant in Maine is only accepting reservation requests by postcard? What could we do with this?
While subtly eavesdropping on a nearby subway conversation and trying not to be creepy about it: Oh, Jennifer Garner is doing an (adorable and oh-so-fabulous) pretend cooking show on Instagram? What could we do with this?
Every new bit of sensory input is an opportunity to spark a new idea. Maybe we don’t need an actual DANCE underwater… but could one of our clients benefit from cool underwater filming? Or is there something we can do with the world’s deepest pool? And POSTCARDS. That’s an unusual way to use postcards. Is there ANOTHER way we can use postcards in an unexpected fashion? Or can one of our clients accept reservations in an unusual way? We’re about to plan a big conference… can postcards play a role in the attendee experience?
And Jennifer Garner. Can we just hug her? Or partner with her? Or can one of our clients send her a recipe to try? Or can they do their own cooking show? Wait… she tried to make bagels and it was REALLY hard. Is that true? If it’s hard… can we do a bagel-making class at one of our restaurants? Are bagels a thing? Do they pair well with prosecco (doesn’t everything)? What about bagels for dinner? Or Bagel Turndown Service at a hotel? Is there a National Bagel Day?
The point is…it’s not about copying ideas. It’s about using a germ of one thing to springboard into a new idea. Maybe related…maybe not. It’s kind of a long stretch to get from Jennifer Garner’s cooking show to launching Bagel Turndown Service at a hotel. But it all starts with… what could we do with this?
If you are ever stuck for an idea, make this your magic phrase. Open a magazine, surf the web, take a spin on social media, go to a shopping mall… pay attention to the things that grab you and think what could we do with this?
Yesterday on the subway, I saw a woman carrying a Yorkshire Terrier in an Easter basket, and the dog was wearing tiny little bunny ears and a tiny little bowtie shaped like a bone. RANDOM. Believe me. You don’t even want to know how long my “what could we do with this?” list was.