Great marketing ideas can come from anywhere: and even more importantly, they come from anyone. No matter what role they have in your business (or whether they have one at all).
As many of you know, I’m sort of a Harry Potter fan. *sips coffee from Harry Potter mug whilst wearing HP hoodie and socks*
Even if you’re not a fan (or could care less), it doesn’t take a genius to recognise that the seven books, eight films (plus the five more currently on their way), amusement parks, and countless memorabilia items reflect a fairly sizeable success not only for J.K., but fans the world over.
And the first time I visited the Harry Potter studios in Leavesden, the introductory film told a story that reminded me of the power of the “small person”. The one at the bottom of the totem pole, so to speak.
One of the directors of the films started out by explaining that they always had a pile of books to read. Books which could, potentially, become the next big film. And J.K.’s small offering lay there in the pile, awaiting its big moment.
Its big moment was to go home with an apprentice. An intern. Someone whose job it was to read the stuff that no one else wanted to read – and quite frankly wasn’t really expected to do the discovering.
She took the book home over the weekend, started reading on Friday night and couldn’t put it down. She came into the team meeting on Monday morning and said, “You really, really need to look at this book.”
The director was fairly sceptical, but figured he would give it a bash. He started it that evening, and was up until 4am until he finished it.
If you’re looking for your next great marketing idea, you may want to consider these tips:
Make it possible for your team to submit marketing ideas when they have them.
One of the dangers of the traditional “team meeting” is that when you go round and ask if anyone has great ideas (particularly if it’s on a Monday morning), everyone simply wants to get on with their work and nothing comes to light. Think about how you can make it possible for everyone – from receptionist to clients – to share their latest marketing ideas, even if it is at 4am on a Friday, or in the midst of preparing a tax return.
Having an internal instant-messaging system, such as Slack, allows the team to share their ideas when they arise.
And I mean everyone. Some of my clients have come up with their best marketing ideas when they showed a website or an app or a blog post to their seven year old child. One firm had a new logo designed and came back to us with ideas based on what they’d discussed at the family dinner table the night before.
This is not to be confused with, “My wife thinks the logo needs to use Comic Sans font” or “my creative client would be offended if we stopped using the logo he designed four years ago” or “My son shrugged when I showed it to him, so I guess we won’t use it”. Involving people means you ask for ideas everywhere, without restricting it to yourself and your business partners, or the management team.
Don’t shoot any idea down at first.
Whenever I’ve done brainstorming sessions or seminars, one of the first things I share is that there is “no bad idea”. We’ve all said this at one point or another, but you have to really, really mean it. As an example, a few ideas that have come out in PF team meetings in the past were: 1) having a cactus for our company icon, 2) using the name “Unicorn” for a new product, 3) not writing any content for clients, and 4) calling our company ‘Glitter Cat’.
Sometimes it was merely in laughter and wild idea-throwing-around, but when you’re coming up with ideas, the point is not to find something and action it straight away. Most of the time your ideas will lead to other ideas, and the crazier the better because it makes you think differently.
I think I’ve told you before the story of the company who wrapped fragile dishes in newspaper, but it was taking too long because no matter how hard they tried, the wrappers went slower because they automatically read the words. One team member shouted out “We could poke out the eyes of the packers” and it led to an idea of hiring people who couldn’t see, to do the wrapping, solving the problem. (Best of all, no one’s eyes had to be poked out.)
Take action on good ideas.
When the director read the book for himself, he took immediate action. Made phone calls, contacted people, got the ball rolling. That film was going to be a reality.
I’m often amazed by how swiftly things move in the film industry – and many accountancy firms could take inspiration from this. The longer you wait on a really good idea, the higher the chances that someone else will action it.
Surround yourself by those who can take action on great marketing ideas when they arise – whether it’s an internal team member, a freelancer or outsourcer, a graphic designer, a website administrator, whatever.
A real life example
As you listen to the marketing ideas of those who are not normally seen to be at a ‘certain level’, remember that brilliant ideas come from anywhere, and talent too.
A great example of this is our graphic designer, Chryzia. She was originally an intern with us from a local college, and over time worked with us part time and then eventually full time.
When Carpenter Box came to us to develop a new logo for their BITE 2015 event (Business Information Technology & Efficiency), we tried two things: we created a design contest with 60+ designers all over the world, and we asked Chryzia to design a few options.
Chryzia’s design won.
That logo has made the rounds not only in the UK, but around the world, and the BITE event is running again in 2017.
Enjoy the idea-generating process! And feel free to share yours with us.