Marketing ideas, especially the marketing ideas that are created and executed by media companies, have to be the hardest working ideas in show business.
Think about how much you expect from them!
For two reasons.
First, you expect those ideas to persuade your audience on behalf of your clients.
That’s hard work.
Persuading a guy who drives a Chevy truck to test drive a Ford F-150 is just as difficult as getting the Ford F-150 driver to test drive the Chevy truck.
Then, as if that weren’t enough, you – the Media Manager -expect those same ideas to help you monetize your tools. You have invested in some terrific new technologies not only to keep pace with your competitors, but to reach and engage your fast-moving audience and you expect to make some money with them.
That’s hard work too.
Today, I want to show you a technique that we have been working on to help you accomplish both of those objectives at the same time.
We at Creative Resources have a name for techniques that help us generate new ideas.
We call those techniques “Detours.”
A detour is a question, a fact, a piece of data introduced during idea generation to inspire your team to come up with more ideas and a wider variety of them.
So, here are the two steps to setting up this particular detour.
1. Organize a menu of your platforms.
First, I would like you to organize a complete menu of all the different platforms that you have available to engage with your audience. Include all the platforms that your sales people can incorporate into any program they create for a client.
Next, print the names of your different platforms on colored cards and post them on a wall that your team can look at during an idea-generation session.
As you can see in the image above, we started on the left here with print platforms like newspaper and magazine on pink cards. Audio platforms, like radio, streaming and podcasts, are on red cards. Video platforms like broadcast television, online television and YouTube, are orange, etc.
2. Display the tools available within each platform.
Next, I want you to display the individual tools within each of the platforms.
When we say tool, we mean a communication tool. A commercial, an event, a t-shirt that you can use to deliver a message to a target consumer.
For example, if you are a TV station, within the television platform you have tools like advertising within the evening news, advertising within a sports segment, or sponsoring the weather.
A typical radio station will have tools like commercials of different lengths, DJ Endorsements, and a variety of sponsorable features.
And you might also have tools that are part of an events platform. Maybe you hold an annual wedding expo, or a series of tailgating events, or an annual fall festival event.
The key is to display your tools on your wall; the tools that your team can sell and that your company expects you to monetize.
Once your “rainbow” of tools is set up, you are ready to take this detour to generate some ideas.
To illustrate how to use this detour to generate ideas, let’s assume that our client is a garden center and nursery that we will call Woodland Nurseries. Here’s their marketing objective:
To persuade a 45 year old woman who loves to garden to purchase her trees and plants at Woodland Nurseries this fall.
As the facilitator, I am going to ask the resource group to help me make a list of ideas to accomplish this marketing objective. At some point in the idea generation session, I am going to say to my team, “Guys, look at all the tools we have at our disposal! Do you see a tool on this wall that inspires an idea?”
The first person notices that Facebook is one of the social media tools on the wall and comes up with an idea.
Garden Wall. Invite customers to submit pictures of their gardens and we will post them on Woodland’s Facebook page.
A second participant finds inspiration in a radio or television personality who loves to garden, and comes up with an idea she calls the Dirty Glove Club.
Dirty Glove Club endorsed by a famous personality. Audience members join the club to get discounts, advice, and other benefits.
A third participant yells out, “What if Woodland Nurseries sponsored the Fall Festival?”
Garden Secrets. Woodland sponsors our Fall Festival. Builds an indoor garden and offers talks and demonstrations by their gardening experts.
In very short order, our team has generated three different ideas inspired by three different tools on our wall. Of course, in a real idea-generation session, the job of the facilitator is to lead the resource group to generate a long list of ideas with a lot of variety in it. So he or she would most likely take full advantage of this detour by hovering over specific platforms and tools, essentially forcing the resource group to use those tools as inspiration for coming up with additional ideas.
We like to say that the generation of a new idea is the result of two simple behaviors: First, we make a list. Then, we make choices.
We’ve made a list. Now we need to make a choice.
In our case, we are going to ask the sales person responsible for this client to choose the idea that she believes has the most potential. And she chooses idea #2, The Dirty Glove Club.
Now, whether or not you are intrigued by this idea, you are probably wondering exactly how it is going to work and, even more importantly, how it is going to accomplish the client’s marketing objective.
And those are very good questions that expose the fact that this idea is not ready to be presented to the client.
Way too often sales people get so excited about an initial concept like the “dirty glove club” that they end up moving a little bit too fast and presenting the idea to the client when the idea is really not ready for prime time. And the client, who didn’t participate in the idea-generation session, doesn’t share the seller’s excitement because all she sees is a phrase on a piece of paper.
How can the client buy the idea if she can’t visualize exactly what is going to happen when she says yes?
Before any idea is presented to a client it needs to be developed into a persuasive campaign.
Only a persuasive campaign can accomplish the two jobs that a media company needs from its marketing ideas: First, to create results for the client. Second, to help the media company monetize its tools.
And that’s what we are going to do the next time we see each other.
In the meantime, try this detour in your next idea generation session and let us know how it goes.