Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Think Outside the Box: Help Drive the Next Big Idea

As marketers, we know there are many things that we need to work on to assist our companies with meeting their objectives: traditional marketing, interactive, public relations and business development activities. Marketing injects the customer insight and creative thinking that gives business its edge.  We combine these with analytical data to drive strategy, innovation and profitable/sustainable growth.  With this, it is our job to help our firms keep on-top of the next big idea that resonates with our clients/targets. This can be both from a pure marketing standpoint or helping our leaders with the next area for growth (development of new or enhanced products/services).

Photo from Jannoon028
Tips for brainstorming:  In a series of interviews with highly successful creative people, Peter Sims, author of Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, writes that most innovators don’t begin with brilliant ideas – they discover them through experimentation. Here are lessons learned from some of those top doers:

  • Get Out of the Office – One of the best ways to identify creative insights and develop ideas is to get out into the world, like an anthropologist might. Steve Blank, a retired Silicon Valley entrepreneur who is also a professor at Stanford, routinely challenges students to defy their assumptions by immersing themselves in the world. “No facts exist inside the building,” he says. “Only opinions.”
  • Unleash Your Imagination – Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t set out to revolutionize the way we search for information. Their goal, as collaborators on the Stanford Digital Library Technologies Project, was to prioritize online library searches. But their small discoveries led to the famous “PageRank” algorithm. also embraces the experimental discovery approach. “Many efforts turn out to be dead ends,” says founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. “But every once in a while, you go down an alley and it opens up into this huge, broad avenue.”
  • Change Your Course – Acclaimed architect Frank Gehry designed conventional buildings like tract housing and shopping malls for much of his career. Inspired by how artists manipulate materials, he performed a series of experiments on his own house in Santa Monica in the late ‘70s. Soon after, he closed his firm and started a new, using his own style and voice. He was 50 years old. This wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t broken free from the realm of what he was used to.
  • Take An Experimental Approach – Chris Rock, the Google founders and Jeff Bezos are examples of what University of Chicago economist David Galenson has dubbed “experimental innovators” – those who use iterative, trial-and-error approaches to gradually reach breakthroughs. They don’t try to hit narrow targets on unknown horizons, analyze new ideas too much too soon, or put their hopes into one big bet. They’ve all reached extraordinary success by making a series of “small bets.”

Now with all of this, we have to keep in mind what our business objectives are, where we want to grow our business and always keep on top of demo/psychographics of our customers.  Thinking outside the box, while we may not get to execute there all the time, is how we can help our companies stay competitive and innovative.

Here's to helping our companies anticipate the next idea that resonates with their clients/targets!