Monthly Archives: October 2012

3 ways to put fresh spins on old marketing concepts

Are you struggling to find a new twist for your advertising or marketing campaigns? Tired of sounding like everyone else and want something new and fresh? Never fear. Here are 3 ways to get those creative juices (and new ideas) flowing.

But before I get to those, there are a few things you should do to prime the pump, so to speak. What this does is clear your “conscious” mind so your muse will have an easier time sending messages to it.

First, review all the information about your product or service. Then, write down all the benefits (why customers would buy those products or services).

Now write down all the concepts you have used before or you’ve seen other people use before. This is an important step. You need to move the old stuff out of the way to make room for the new. Writing those concepts down helps do this.

Okay, now you’re ready to start generating some fresh ideas.

1. Take another look at testimonials. Testimonials are always great selling tools, but that’s not why I want you to do this. Customers may come up with a key benefit you never thought about before, and that may become the foundation for a new campaign. Scour every testimonial you can get your hands on and see if you can find something new. You might want to even try calling a few customers for quick interviews. (Don’t have testimonials? Now might be a good time to solicit some.)

2. Study other ads. Flip through a magazine or turn on the television — except this time focus on the ads and not the content. (I know, I know, this is counter to what you usually do.) Which ads do you like? Why do you like them? Are those ads doing something you can modify for your own campaign?

The key word is modify, not copy. I don’t want anyone committing copyright infringement. What I’m talking about is using an existing ad to jump-start your own ideas. Maybe you really like the use of an evocative photo with a single caption. Or the use of repetition in Mastercard’s “Priceless” campaign. Or the idea of turning the “money can’t buy everything” on its head (which is essence of that campaign). Can you use that concept in your campaign?

Another resource for great ads is Communication Arts Magazine. Each issue showcases some of the most creative and beautiful ads found anywhere.

3. Check out what a completely different industry is doing. For instance, let’s say you sell software products to computer professionals. Techy market, right? So, pick up a yoga magazine. See how that industry communicates with its audience. Now try selling your product using the same language and concepts. Take it a step further and brainstorm ways your software product is similar to doing yoga.

Why this works: One definition of creativity is taking two everyday ideas and combing them so they become something original.

This is a very powerful way to jolt your own thinking and start your muse down a completely different path, one you might never have discovered before.

A variation on this idea is to force a connection with a random object rather than an entire industry. You ask yourself, how is your software program similar to a stuffed dog? Write down everything you can think of, no matter how silly or foolish. Sometimes the foolish ideas are the ones that lead to the great ones.

A final note: If at all possible, don’t rush this process. Give your muse some time to ponder and play with these techniques. I know it often seems like ideas pop out into your head out of thin air, but usually that only happens because you’ve given your muse the necessary tools and “incubation time” to make it happen.

Quiz: Are you Creative?

Worried you may not be creative, or you may not be creative enough? Take this quiz and find out just how creative you are.

Get a piece of paper and number it one to seven. For each question, write down the corresponding letter of your answer.

1. When you come across a rose, you immediately:

A. Smell it.
B. Quote every rose poem you can remember.
C. Write your own poem.
D. Sketch the rose.
E. Step on the rose.

2. One of your dreams in life is to:

A. Write a novel.
B. Become a painter.
C. Travel the world.
D. Climb all the famous mountains.
E. Just once, get everything done on your to-do list

3. Your desk:

A. You have trouble finding as it’s buried under everything including the kitchen sink.
B. Resembles a natural disaster.
C. Is a bit of a mess, but you know where everything is.
D. Is basically neat — you use the stacking method
E. Is in perfect order — everything in its place.

4. The person you admire most is:

A. Einstein.
B. Walt Disney.
C. Your mother.
D. Jane Austin.
E. Anyone who can get everything crossed off their to-do list.

5. You consider yourself:

A. Extremely creative.
B. Creative.
C. Somewhat creative.
D. A little creative.
E. About as creative as a turnip (actually, come to think about it, turnips may be more creative then you are).

6. You get new ideas:

A. All the time.
B. Several times a week.
C. Several times a month.
D. Once or twice a month.
E. You dimly recall getting a new idea when Clinton was in office. Or maybe it was the first Bush.

7. You dream in:

A. Color.
B. Black and white.
C. Both black and white and color.
D. You can’t remember now.
E. Nothing. You don’t dream.

Scoring:

Throw out all your answers except the one for number five — “You consider yourself:”. If you answered:

A. Extremely creative — Then you’re extremely creative.
B. Creative — Then you’re creative.
C. Somewhat creative — then you’re somewhat creative.
D. A little creative — Then you’re a little creative.
E. About as creative as a turnip — then you’re about as creative as a turnip.

Okay, this was a bit of a trick. But it’s true. How creative you think you are corresponds with how creative you are.

There was a famous study done that illustrates this. A big company wanted to increase creativity in its employees. So it hired a group of consultants to come in. The consultants started by thoroughly testing all of the employees. They discovered the only difference between the employees who were creative and who weren’t creative was how creative they perceived themselves.

Even more telling was what happened to the group that wasn’t creative. The consultants focused on helping them nurture their creativity, and at the end those employees were actually more creative than the ones who had initially considered themselves more creative.

And that means you too can become more creative. In fact, how creative you become is entirely in your own hands.

Creativity Exercise — Assumptions

Ready to become more creative? Here’s an exercise.

Write down all the reasons why you’re not creative. Go on. Write them all down. Every negative reason you can think of. Things like:

I’ve never been creative in my life.
I haven’t had a new idea in over a year.
I don’t have time to be creative.

Now reverse those negative assumptions and make them positive. Like so:

I am a creative person.
I have lots of new ideas all of time.
I don’t need time to be creative because I already am creative.

Do this every day and see what happens. This is a great way to start getting rid of those inner demons that keep all of us from realizing our true potential.