17 Nov Out of Ideas? Tips for Brainstorming During the Holiday Season
As digital marketing continues to grow in popularity, creativity is becoming more important than ever in allowing businesses to stand out amidst loads of content. The holidays are no exception to this. With holiday marketing disproportionate to the rest of the year, starting as early as September, consumers news feeds, inboxes, and web searches begin to be filled with holiday campaigns.
Those involved in putting those campaigns together may begin to quickly run out of good ideas, and fall trap to being just another ad with just another snowflake border (though they do look nice).
Brainstorming can give you fresh and exciting ideas for many content types, including blog posts, infographics, emails and social media posts. So, here are some ways to keep a creative mind during the holidays and manage all the brainstorming you’ll be doing to set your business apart from others.
Create the right environment.
I’m not talking Christmas carols and spiked eggnog. I’m talking about an environment for creativity and welcomed ideas. When you are trying to move away from the same old ideas and get something fresh, it is essential that everyone feels safe voicing even their craziest ideas.
Create this “safe place” by setting ground rules and expectations of how the brainstorming will go. Communicate clearly that this is not the time for competition or contempt, and that everyone’s ideas want to be heard.
Before you even begin sharing ideas start with something fun, like an ice-breaker game or creative thinking warm-up. That will help everyone to get to know each other better, which will facilitate trust and being able to speak more openly.
Have the right people in the room.
When looking for new ideas you are going to want a diverse group (who are all taken equally seriously). However, don’t have too many people in a room. If it’s more people than you would have time to actually hear from multiple times, it’s too many.
Your business may be so small that too many people is the last thing you are worried about for creating new content. If that’s the case, then focus on the most important person for the room: a good facilitator. Someone who keeps the discussion focused and rolling, and has everyone feeling comfortable seriously makes or breaks brainstorming.
It is a great idea to have someone whose sole purpose is writing down everything while brainstorming, as everything should be noted for possible later use. It is difficult to be come up with your own ideas while writing down someone else’s; take that burden away and have the notes emailed out later.
Know what things belong in the room.
Cell phones/Laptops = No.
Post-it notes, writing utensils, white boards = Yes.
Adorable puppies, etc. = Maybe?
It may feel old school at first, but putting the electronics away and breaking out the pencil and paper can really help people to focus.
There may be points in your brainstorming where you stray from discussion. Instead, you can give people time to think and write up as many ideas as they can during a period of uninterrupted silence. This is especially useful in providing a way for the quieter people in the room to voice their ideas. Also, writing things down on paper or Post-it notes means that you can physically put the ideas somewhere. This is great because people can continually reference and “keep track” of all the ideas being thrown around.
You can also use objects to encourage creative thinking. Probably avoid the puppy, but — photos, products and little toys to keep the hands occupied while thinking all are great. In a holiday brainstorm don’t be afraid to break out the tinsel, Christmas ornaments, and other items that might spark an idea.
Provide brainstormers with a foundation.
Give ’em the facts.
Let them know of your goals for trying to boost your social media following, or the fact that mobile devices account for 36% of sales made on Black Friday. In fact, it is best that you provide all relevant information prior to the actual brainstorming session. This allows people to come prepared.
Another part of providing good ideas with the right foundation means keeping brainstorming focused. Effective brainstorming is like exploration with goals in mind. You wouldn’t walk into a ice cream shop and randomly say “what if we made a burrito?”, but you may want to say “what if we put this mint chocolate chip with a scoop of dark chocolate?”. Don’t just open the floor up for general “creative holiday marketing” and accept ANY idea. Instead, outline that you want creative email advertisements, a new holiday video, or whatever it might be. Have specific goals so people can offer specific ideas.
I know brainstorming can be frustrating. Trust me, I’ve been in that room, wanting desperately, very, very, desperately to get out. So remembering to breathe in and out can be really important for maintaining your mental health when a session may not be going so well.
However, since you are already following the above four points and therefore your brainstorming session is going extremely well, this is referring to something else.
You see, inspiration is should reflect breathing in and breathing out. You inhale and do tons of research and hear ALL relevant ideas (even the worst). Then, you exhale and slim down to your best ideas and what will really work well for your goals. Don’t confuse hearing all ideas with accepting all ideas.
End with an action plan.
Leave any brainstorming interaction knowing what you will do next. Delegate specific points for specific people to get your ideas into play. You don’t have to have everything completely figured out after an hour of brainstorming, but you should have a plan to keep moving forward.
At the end of 100 good ideas, usually comes at least 1 great idea. Keep the creativity coming, and find that great idea for your holiday campaign.