Brainstorming is one of those words that to many UK citizens sounds rather like a fake American idea, which is probably just a fad and most likely doesn’t work anyway.
And yet quite a few people say that brainstorming was the route to the creation of their best adverts. So which is right?
The fact is that it isn’t just brainstorming sessions that many people find a waste of time – it is all types of meeting. For many people there is the notion that they work better on their own. And that’s where the first barrier to brainstorming comes.
However, although some enthusiasts for the method do put ten people in a room for an hour, others speak of great results coming from just two people together for just 15 minutes with no extension allowed. Probably the best approach (if you are interested) is to experiment to see what works for you and your colleagues.
But the key thing about brainstorming, at least how the experts propose it, is that it has separated sections. It is not usually successful if one sits down with some colleagues and says, “We need a new advert to boost our sales into schools. Any ideas?”
Rather you need to set out the current situation (perhaps by handing out copies of the last couple of adverts, with the results), define what you want to do, and note any statistics that you have.
After that you might want to consider what your competitors are doing, before opening up to exploring new ideas, and then pulling these together into a campaign. Most firms that use brainstorming as an approach to advertising claim that they can get significant numbers of new ideas as a result of such a structured programme.
The process can also work when just one individual is involved – if that person can find a method for thinking problems through. Personally, I can do this on my own, although I absolutely must have a pen and notebook. And I do find that I work best if I go to a place where I will not be disturbed by phone calls or colleagues wanting a chat.
Generally brainstorming sessions start from the notion that nothing is ruled out. All ideas are noted and then refined, rather than being rejected straight off with comments like, “that won’t work” or “we’ve tried that before”.
It is always easier to cross out ideas that don’t look likely to work than think up new ideas because your brainstorming session only left you with two new concepts.
Another point is that most people who try brainstorming only try it once. Like so many approaches to business, one needs to try the idea several times in order to come up with that one idea that really does help the business take off. Running several sessions is also a good way of overcoming self-censorship by people who are concerned that their idea may be dismissed or laughed at.
However if you feel that you are not ready to start brainstorming there is another approach you can try, and that is to look at the list of topics that we use when reviewing a product or service on our 7 Day Education Marketing Consultancy Programme
If you follow that link you will the key issues we look at on that programme, and if you are interested in brainstorming it can be a good idea to focus on just one of those topics as your starting point, asking quite simply, “how can I do this better?”
Or, of course, you can ask us to undertake the whole review (and a brainstorm) for you. The cost is just £75.00 – and there are details in the 7 Day Programme above.
For more information please call 01604 880 927 or email Stephen@schools.co.uk