For marketers, ideas are a valuable commodity. They are the sparks of success, but they require the right tools and resources as well as careful nurturing if they are to develop into powerful campaigns.
Why Does Ideation Matter so Much For Marketing?
For starters, ideation is what fuels innovation. Ideation is the process of creating something out of nothing — an alchemy of the imagination.
The most successful marketing campaigns are those that tell a story. And ideas are the seeds of a great story. Why? Because ideas introduce something new, weave a compelling narrative that sticks in the minds of potential customers. And the best ideas are born from passion. Take Alleycat Designs for example, a custom apparel design agency that thrives on fresh ideas in order to flourish, founder, Sophia Bilynsky, says:
“Discover what you’re truly passionate about. It will sustain you during challenging periods that will inevitably test your commitment. Whether you are driven by financial gain or creative growth, you have to find satisfaction in the work you do as an entrepreneur.”
Ideas are the sustenance which drives success. And this is as true for custom apparel brands as it is for marketing teams, continually producing new, dynamic ideas will drive marketing success.
Embrace Tech and Improve Your Ideation Workflow
It isn’t easy turning a concept or an idea into something tangible. Without careful guidance and continuous nudging in the right direction — you could end up far from the campaign goal you initially envisioned.
A simple and often underrated way to improve your ideation workflow is crowdsourcing. By providing your stakeholders with a collaborative workspace, you enable them to collect their ideas in a single, shared space and build on one another’s ideas.
Visual methods of ideation workflow such as mind maps are essential for this. They provide a clear, top-down view of an idea’s process, tracking it from a nascent seedling to a blooming flower.
Above all, mind maps provide a valuable ‘why’ for your idea — they show how you decided on your final idea and what got you there. As your project progresses and you move closer to your goal, this will be vital for keeping a grasp on the essence of your campaign.
But mind maps should be used carefully in order to get the most benefit from them for your ideation workflow.
Set a clear process as to how you organize your thoughts into topics. Create main topics out of the original pillars of your idea, then ensure that team members provide ample detail and reasoning as to why they developed a particular idea further.
It’s also worth avoiding the use of jargon in your mind map. This is a collaborative process, and what makes perfect sense to you might not be as clear to those in other teams. The best mind maps are those in which everyone is on an equal footing — set a clear brief and make it concise and universally understandable.
Who Needs to Ideate and How Can You Motivate Them to Do So?
So who should be involved in the ideation process? An obvious answer might be your copywriting or graphic design team. They’re the ‘creative types’, so it makes sense that they should take the lead on any marketing ideation. But while ideas are in essence creative, they don’t exist in a bubble. Ideas should have goals, quantifiable targets that can be tracked and measured in terms of campaign success. Further to that, they should be based on hard data which indicates that your campaign will hit the mark.
For instance, let’s say you’re planning a content campaign for a tuxedo hire service. Creating a piece of content about famous tuxedos from film and TV might be a fun idea. But if people aren’t searching for those keywords, then it won’t hit the mark. Of course, such content has its place, but it still needs to fit into your wider marketing strategy.
Consequently, it’s important that your marketing and SEO specialists are involved in the ideation process. They should work with creative teams to find a unique angle that is backed by hard data and targeted to SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely).
Knowing who needs to ideate is just one facet of this process. You need to motivate your team to ideate and remind them that their input is actually valued.
Look at Shopify for example, a SaaS company that develops online store builders for merchants. Its founder, Tobias Lütke, said in an interview that each new R&D intern is required to make a change in the backend that directly impacts customers: “and it just blows people’s minds, because that’s the kind of personal impact they want to have in the company.”
Of course, you don’t necessarily need to adopt such a bold policy, this is just meant to encourage team input. But taking the time to seriously consider everyone’s ideas, no matter how small, goes a long way toward creating a fecund environment in which ideation thrives.
Transforming Ideas Into Actions
So you’ve completed your ideation process and come up with a stellar brief for your marketing campaign. How do you translate that idea into action without losing its original purpose?
Break down your idea into its core components and allocate them to the appropriate teams. For example, your copywriters deal with the copy, your PR team deals with promotion and syndication and so on.
While these should be clearly defined, there will be overlap between teams. Highlight points where each team’s brief might overlap, for instance, copy and design, or design and SEO.
At each stage of your product development, don’t forget to return to your original idea. This should be present at every step, guiding the things you do. If you can’t see your idea at every step of the way, then it’s time to take stock and re-evaluate your direction.
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Find Time to Ideate That Works For Everyone
The process of ideation isn’t as simple as turning on a tap. Inspiration can come from anywhere, and turning an idea into something tangible can be grueling.
But the most successful people are those who follow a routine, and the same applies to ideation too. Schedule a set time in your week for everyone to get together to ideate. This is ideally just after the day starts but before the post-lunchtime slump sets in.
Once you’ve set upon a time and place for this meeting, stick to it. This is when each team’s ideas should be laid out and analyzed with critical eyes collaboratively.
Before this meeting takes place, each stakeholder should find their own time to ideate independently. The individual should brainstorm their own thoughts and ideas free from the input of others and unfettered by a tight deadline. This process provides the individual with ‘raw’ data that they can bring into the collaborative meeting.
Every great marketing campaign begins with rigorous ideation. It creates the bedrock upon which you build your methods and achieve your goals — but only when done right. Know the importance of motivation and the value of collaborative mind maps. Transform the seeds of ideas into actionable methods and enjoy the power of strong ideation that works for you time and again. Follow the tips above and embrace the power of ideation.