Marketing your business is an essential part of telling your story and attracting customers. You won’t succeed if consumers don’t know you exist.
But your marketing needs to break through the noise in order to capture attention. How can you do this?
Creative thinking is where it starts. Creative thinking is critical when it comes to setting yourself apart from the competition. For some, thinking outside the box comes naturally, and for others, it’s tough. If you lack creative juices, there are five steps you can follow to help you to unlock creative ideas that will support your business goals. We call this the HATCH method.
Bring together a good group, use the process outlined in this article, and watch the ideas flow. This is the path to making your business stand out so that you get paid.
Hold a Brainstorm
It’s important to clearly define the objective of the brainstorm. What do you want the brainstorm to accomplish? Be specific! Increasing sales isn’t a goal. Increasing sales over the Labor Day holiday by 10 percent over last year is more like it.
After you figure out your goal, write it at the top of a Post-it pad to keep things in focus.
The goal of a brainstorm is not to select ideas, it’s to generate a large volume of them. Set the tone of the brainstorm from the start by encouraging people to be comfortable. No idea is a bad idea. No criticism after an idea is floated. Sometimes it helps to play a game before starting the brainstorm to help people loosen up and feel more relaxed sharing their ideas.
Consider adopting what improv comedians call the “Yes, and” method. When one actor introduces an idea to the audience, the partner actor always builds on that topic. The second actor never shuts down the first actor’s idea. If one actor is pretending to be a sweet old grandmother who breathes fire like a dragon, the second actor would never say, “No, be a grandmother who breathes ice.” That approach kills the momentum. Using the “Yes, and” method, the second actor would think, “Yes, and the fire-breathing grandma has to sing in the church choir this Sunday!”
Another framework is the twenty-idea method. Start spitballing ideas, and don’t stop until you get to number twenty. After about ten ideas it gets tougher to conjure new thoughts, but that’s also when things start getting good. When you push past the obvious, you get to the surprising ideas. After all, as Roy H. Williams said, “Surprise is the foundation of delight.” Stupid stuff gets said, laughter ensues, and creative juices start bubbling.
Take a Nap
Step away. Close out the meeting, go home, get a great night’s sleep, and come back to your brainstorm list the next day. It’s remarkable what happens when you allow your brain to process new material overnight. When your unconscious mind marinates on ideas and new inputs, your brain creates connections in your subconscious.
Regroup and hand out colored stickers so each person has their own color. Then have each team member go up to the Post-it pad and place a dot on their top-five favorite ideas. You can expand it to more than five if you want, but the goal is to force the best ideas to the top of the list.
Bring back your team and focus on your top two ideas. Make sure you all agree that these are the best; check to make sure they have the most potential.
It’s time to start putting together your strategy and thinking about the best way to execute it. How will you measure success? What will the budget be? What are the deadlines to meet the objective? What should the return on investment be? How can you fail? How can you mitigate that failure? What are the tactics you will have to employ to get the desired outcome, and who are the best people to assign those tasks to?
Hand Off to Creative Team
Once you’ve chosen your ideas, hand them off to the creative team and let them begin bringing it all to life.
Get the Most Out of Your Ideas
Harnessing creativity can be challenging, but by following the HATCH method you will be able to more easily brainstorm ideas and develop creative solutions to get your business noticed.
Remember that no idea is a bad idea. We all have the potential to be creative, we just need the right tools and environment to bring out our ideas. Once you master this process, the possibilities for leveraging creativity to grow your business become endless.